Microsoft Gets European Approval for Cloud Computing

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) cloud computing services are now American built and European approved. Microsoft knows the effects of European privacy regulations on its business to be detrimental at times, but today the American technology firm is getting the thumbs up from the data protection authorities of all 28 European Union member states for its cloud computing services.

The news came in the form of a post on The Official Microsoft Blog early Thursday morning. Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, wrote the post detailing how the approval benefits Microsoft customers.

“This is an important week for the protection of our customers’ privacy. The European Union’s data protection authorities have found that Microsoft’s enterprise cloud contracts meet the high standards of EU privacy law. This ensures that our customers can use Microsoft services to move data freely through our cloud from Europe to the rest of the world. Building on this approval, we will now take proactive steps to expand these legal protections to benefit all of our enterprise customers,” he wrote.

The approval allows Microsoft to utilize its cloud-based products in European Union countries, which have much stricter data privacy laws on the books than Microsoft’s native United States. The blog post names Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Windows Intune as products affected by the approval.

All are Microsoft products that work with cloud computing in some way.  Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform that targets business customers. Office 365 is a Microsoft Office service that brings the familiar package of programs into cloud computing. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a business product that deals with sales, customer service and marketing solutions. Windows Intune is a management system for businesses.

Microsoft’s past dealings with the European regulators have not always resulted in good news for Microsoft. In October 2012, the European Commission fined Microsoft for violating its antitrust laws in that Microsoft did not offer a screen that allowed PC users to pick their preferred browser.

European data protections require a much more stringent approach to protecting data. Its twelve model clauses detail the compliance standard that companies must follow to get approval. Microsoft’s enterprise cloud contracts met this standard, allowing the company to do business.

Smith also notes in the blog post that users will only trust their data to companies they consider secure enough to protect that data. He concludes that it is just the beginning.  Microsoft will send out notices starting on July 1 to inform customers of addendums to their current agreements as per the deal, he writes.

TechCrunch reports that this is in the midst of Microsoft’s latest efforts to demonstrate the company’s commitment to protecting user data. Other companies making similar moves include Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL), and others, especially in light of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations last summer and the Heartbleed bug, which revealed vulnerabilities in the encryption that was supposed to keep users safe.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: