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Privacy concerns turn Microsoft Office 365’s future in some German schools turns cloudy

A Microsoft building

On July 9, the German state of Hesse warned its schools that they may not legally use Microsoft Office 365 as the data stored in the cloud, even if the data was held in European centres, could potentially be accessed in the US. Apple and Google cloud suits also do not satisfy German privacy regulation for use in schools, but the release targets Microsoft. German state wants data locally stored The Hessian commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI), Michael Ronellenfitsch, has declared it illegal to use Office 365 in schools. In August 2017, the HBDI had ruled that schools could legally use Office 365 as long as back-end data for the school accounts was stored in Microsoft’s German-located account, Ars Technica reported. However, in 2018, Microsoft stopped offering the Microsoft Cloud Germany data trustee model, and school accounts were migrated to the European cloud, as per the HBDI ruling. HBDI has argued that because it is the European cloud, it may give access to American authorities and the German government has no way to monitor that access. HBDI’s notice said that Microsoft had not clarified if private data of German school children stored in the European cloud could be accessed by American investigators. In the absence of specific consent by users, use of European cloud is illegal. Microsoft already offers Germany a differentiated Office 365 from rest of Europe that delivers services “from German data centers, with data residency in Germany and strict data access and control…

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