Microsoft’s customers in the United Kingdom can now choose their own country as the place for data to be stored.
Microsoft has announced that they’ve opened UK data centres in London, Durham and Cardiff which can store Office 365, Azure, OneDrive and other Microsoft hosted data.
These ‘local’ data centres are intended to settle concerns about information being sent outside the legal jurisdiction. Some organisations are forbidden by law or policy from storing data outside their own country. That especially applies to lucrative government based contracts.
Having your data stored (relatively) close to you can improve the response time for data access. It reduces the reliance on Internet connections to/from your country to the rest of the world.
However, for most practical and regular purposes, the location of your cloud data doesn’t make any difference. Cloud providers can and do switch customer data between locations without notice.
Microsoft likes to suggest that having data stored in the same country is more secure but that’s hard to understand. US law means that data controlled by a US company can be accessed by the US government (Microsoft is currently contesting that part of the law passed over a decade ago).
There seems to be nothing to stop a US company from copying customers data between data centers via the USA and therefore making that data available to US authorities.
The terms and conditions of use for Microsoft cloud services allow Microsoft access to customer data at any time.
In other words, the physical location of your cloud data doesn’t seem to make much difference. If the cloud service provider (Microsoft, Google, Dropbox etc) or a government agency wants to read your emails, documents or databases, they’ll find a legal way to do it – with or without your knowledge.