Microsoft to use German data centres following Safe Harbour breakdown

Microsoft appears to be leading the way in terms of data storage reform, following news that German customers will soon be able to store their information domestically.

Earlier this week, the software giant announced it will make use of new data centres in the European country, ready for customers by the second half of 2016.

Read more: Microsoft to offer cloud services from new UK data centres

The decision to utilise more European data centres is likely to have been driven by recent controversies regarding government surveillance and personal privacy. A decision by the European Court of Justice has left the future of the Safe Harbour agreement, which permitted the transfer of European data to the US, in doubt. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella conceded that the new German data centres would enable the company to comply with national data regulation laws.

”These data centres will ensure that customers’ data remains in Germany and that a German company controls access to data in accordance with German law,” he said.

Microsoft will use two facilities based in Magdeburg and Frankfurt, both managed by T-Systems, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. This means that if that if any external party wishes to access the data being stored there, they would have to make a request to the German authorities.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will expand this process to other European countries, and at what financial cost. The company did announce this week that it would enable UK customers to access cloud services from domestic data centres, but given that GCHQ has been criticised for its surveillance policies, this is unlikely to allay privacy fears amongst UK customers.

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Perhaps more pertinently, it will be interesting to see whether other major technology firms based in the US, including Google and Apple, follow Microsoft’s lead by using more European data centres.