Where’s the line between business and personal data?

By | September 10, 2015

Microsoft is up on a particularly important battle out on the legal field – and this time, they're the good guys. The US government has requested that Microsoft hand over personal emails from non-US citizens stored in an EU data center on the claims that emails constitute business records. Microsoft argues that they are personal data. What does common sense tell you?

Either way, the implications of this decision are quite high. Consider how much computing power is moving into the cloud these days. And consider what happens when the same argumentation and logic applies not just to email records, but also to process traces and digital transactions. What happens when computing records and transactions – which, in an enterprise arrangement, would constitute company-internal processes – can be handed over because the parent company of your cloud supplier happens to sit overseas? Well, that would certainly be a disaster-in-the-making for many businesses, and a big hurdle for cloud providers trying to enter international markets!

After all: the idea behind the cloud is offloading computing resources to someone else is still as secure, and more cost-efficient, than maintaining those mainframe machines yourself. But if cloud privacy is not legally respected, then it becomes a larger business risk than the cost savings deliver in benefit – ultimately meaning that cloud providers would only be able to operate on a country-specific basis. Not quite the distributed computing vision that the cloud originally should have in mind!

Microsoft makes fresh legal bid to protect emails stored in Irish datacentre from US government
Software giant Microsoft’s ongoing battle to protect emails stored in overseas datacentre from US government enters new phase

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