German schools should not use Office 365 says Privacy Commissioner

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The Privacy Commissioner for the German state of Hesse says that Office 365 should not be used in schools due to privacy concerns and access to the data by US authorities.

It’s the result of Microsoft withdrawing from a previous arrangement to have German located servers which only the German authorities could regulate.  In 2018, after just two years, Microsoft stopped that option.

Traditionally, the German people are more sensitive to privacy issues than some other nationalities.  They’ve not forgotten the work of the Stasi in East Germany or the ‘unpleasantness’ before 1939-45. Hesse is a major German state including the cities of Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Nauheim.

The concern with Microsoft’s cloud services is the legal access to cloud data by the US government, regardless of where the data is stored.  US law says that data saved on any computer controlled by a US company can be read by the US government, without a warrant and no matter where the server is located.

Office 365’s privacy worries aren’t limited to Germany.  The same data access issues exist in all servers run by US companies, anywhere in the world.  Microsoft, Google, Apple or any other US based company.

For more info see US Law opens up Microsoft’s data anywhere to the US government and Privacy, Law and Cloud Storage

“…in connection with the use of Office 365 in the cloud, …. the security and traceability of the data processing processes are not guaranteed. Therefore the data processing is inadmissible”  – Translated from original German.

It seems Microsoft is staying quiet on the issue

“… data is also transmitted when using Office 365. whose contents have not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries at Microsoft. “  – Translated from original German.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is also a concern to German privacy commissioners with a wide range of data sent to Microsoft from all Win10 computers.

“With the use of the Windows 10 operating system, a wealth of telemetry data is transmitted to Microsoft, whose content has not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries at Microsoft.” – Translated from original German.

Not just Microsoft

While the announcement is mostly about Office 365, the Commissioner notes that Microsoft’s major rivals have the same problem.

“What is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensible set out.“ – Translated from original German.


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