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Thales and Google are partnering to offer state-approved/vetted cloud computing services for storing some of France’s sensitive data. The companies announced the partnership on Wednesday.

The alliance between Europe’s largest defense electronics supplier and Google fulfills a government plan launched in May by France, which also acknowledged US technological superiority in the field. The French government said that cloud computing services developed by Google and Microsoft could be used to store the country’s sensitive state and corporate data, provided that the services were licensed to French companies.

How it will work

In a joint statement, Thales and Google Cloud said that they will create a France-based company with Thales as the majority shareholder. The company will provide the whole range of Google Cloud’s services. However, its network and servers would be separate from those used by regular Google clients.

The company is going to run Google software on its infrastructure, with security layers to protect data from extraterritorial rules and other concerns, according to Marc Darmon, head of secure communications and IT systems at Thales. Google and Microsoft, along with Amazon Web Services, are the big three of the cloud storage market.

Allaying concerns

The dominance of the big three triggered European concerns over surveillance risks after the adoption of the US CLOUD Act of 2018. The Thales-Google partnership will require the French cybersecurity agency ANSSI’s approval to continue.

The ANSSI head has said that he welcomes the project, adding that it fulfills the criteria needed to get the certification.

The company should be created in the first half of 2022 and be operational at the start of 2023. Its competition would be Bleu, a joint company set up by Capgemini and Orange (the telecoms group), aiming to use Microsoft’s cloud technology.