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A Question of Sovereignty

It’s the issue which US data centre operators are hoping will die – the ongoing battle between the right to online privacy and law enforcement’s demands for access to data. For Microsoft and other US tech firms, it’s the issue which just doesn’t seem to be going away. Today’s guest blogger, Tim, gives us the score.

The US government is standing firm in its assertion that because Microsoft operates in the US, it should be required to hand over data to the authorities on demand. Washington has indicated that this is the case, regardless of whether that data is hosted abroad for overseas customers.

This specific case, which is due to return to court, has been rumbling on for some time, with Microsoft arguing that it is under no obligation to hand over the data which contains details of narcotics sales. But it’s not the dodgy emails themselves that Microsoft is sweating over, it’s the reassurance it needs to give its customers overseas that their data will remain 100% confidential. If a precedent is set in this case, it could be more difficult for them to convince European users of the security of their data.

Ever since Snowden’s revelations that US security body, the NSA, was harvesting non-Americans’ metadata there has been some hesitance in the European business community about hosting with US providers. Gartner, the leading tech industry analyst has already acknowledged that US providers are losing foreign business due to the perceived ‘carte blanche’ for the US authorities to access communications data.

UK-based cloud providers are not currently struggling to convince their clients of the confidentiality of their data in the same way, although the much criticised ‘Snooper’s Charter’ proposals may have the potential to change all that. Traditionally, EU privacy requirements have been stronger than in the US, giving a market advantage to hosting firms on this side of the Atlantic.

As cloud computing adoption continues to rise, and data is hosted in more numerous and varied locations, the arguments and tensions between tech providers and states over data sovereignty are not likely to become any less complicated than they are right now! Knowing for sure where your data is stored and what legislation it comes under is the first place to start when it comes to confidence in data confidentiality.

To find out about hosting your data with a UK-based provider you can trust, take a look at our website or give us a call on 0208 045 4945.

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