EU data privacy authorities approve Microsoft Azure, Office 365 cloud services

The European Union's data privacy authorities have given approval to Microsoft's cloud services including Windows Azure and Office 365

Microsoft’s enterprise cloud services including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune services meet the standards of EU privacy laws, European Union’s data protection authorities have confirmed.

The approval means that enterprise customers using Windows Azure  or Office 365 can move data freely through Microsoft’s cloud from Europe to the rest of the world.

“Microsoft is the first – and so far the only – company to receive this approval,” said Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft on  the company blog.

The approval came from EU’s 28 data protection experts via aletter. It said Microsoft cloud services’ data processing agreement is in line with EU’s standard data protection clauses. It also means that customers’ data stored in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud is subject to Europe’s rigorous privacy standards no matter where that data is located.

“This is especially significant given that Europe’s Data Protection Directive sets such a high bar for privacy protection,” Smith added.

As a result of the approval, from July 01 onwards, Microsoft will issue standard agreements with its EU customers to ensure compliance. The EU requires that customers update their current agreements to benefit from the approval.

“Customers will entrust their information to the cloud only if they have confidence that it will remain secure there. The approval by the European data protection authorities is another important step in ensuring customers trust Microsoft’s cloud services,” said Smith.

Microsoft’s cloud customers will benefit from the EU approval in that even if EU suspended the Safe Harbor Agreement with the US ( as called for recently by the European Parliament), enterprise customers’ use of Microsoft cloud services will not be interrupted or curtailed, Smith said.

The Safe Harbor Agreement between the US and the EU allows data to be legally transferred to the US, but in the wake of last year’s Prism scandal, EU authorities have been calling for the agreement to be suspended.

“Building on this approval, we will now take proactive steps to expand these legal protections to benefit all of our enterprise customers.


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