Following a string of revelations about U.S. government backed electronic spying programs, which also included monitoring of foreign citizens’ internet traffic, Microsoft has announced a new move that has won the appreciation of privacy advocates. The company will allow foreign users to choose whether or not they want their data to be stored in Microsoft’s U.S. based data centers. If they’re not open to the idea, they can request to have the data stored outside the U.S.
This was announced by Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, in an interview with the Financial Times. Smith said that a customer based in Europe will have the option to choose Microsoft’s data center in Ireland, if they’re not keen on having the data stored in the U.S. He also said that while other internet companies may be opposed to the idea, its necessary for Microsoft to go down this road following revelations that the NSA has been monitoring activities of foreign citizens, even those of friendly nations. Even though its a bold move by Microsoft, some argue that the company will ultimately have to hand over data to the NSA if its explicitly asked to do so, meaning that at the end of the day it doesn’t matter where the data is stored.