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Microsoft is to set up a separate European branch of its cloud services exclusively for European companies and governments. All data will be stored on servers within European borders.

The new policy, called the EU Data Boundary Policy for the Microsoft Cloud, will apply to all major Microsoft cloud services, including Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, Microsoft said in a blog post. All data from European customers will be stored within the continent’s borders, and data that currently resides elsewhere will be moved to Europe as well.

Pressure from Europe

Microsoft’s choice is the result of years of pressure from both European politicians and Microsoft customers. These parties are worried about what will happen to their data if it is stored in the United States. Once there, the European authorities no longer have any control over it. It is against GDPR legislation to give third parties insight into the data of European citizens and companies, but from this side of the ocean it is difficult to check whether tech companies actually comply with this.

First cloud provider with this policy

Microsoft is the first major cloud provider to take such a step. The company says it already complies with GDPR legislation and offers a number of additional privacy services. For example, customers can choose to store their data in the EU and many Azure services can be configured to process data within the EU.

Privacy-friendly look

It is a huge investment for Microssoft to make all its services fully available within the EU, but the company seems to want to win it back by marketing itself as more privacy-friendly than, for example, Google or AWS. In addition to EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein will also be covered by the new policy.

Switch by the end of 2022

Technically, there is still much to be done before Microsoft can make the move, so it will be a while before users see the effects of the announcement. The company will start the transition immediately and expects to have implemented all the necessary changes by the end of 2022.

Tip: EU threatens to fine tech giants if they leave Europe