Newspaper article International New York Times

Data Privacy as Selling Point in Europe

Newspaper article International New York Times

Data Privacy as Selling Point in Europe

Article excerpt

Microsoft touts its compliance with E.U. online privacy regulations in a pitch for customers in aftermath of disclosures by Edward Snowden.

Online privacy is turning into a selling point in Europe.

Microsoft's top lawyer said Thursday that its cloud computing services had met Europe's stringent data protection rules -- the only company so far to receive such approval -- and he used the news as a way to woo potential new customers.

"For customers who care about privacy and compliance, there is no more committed partner than Microsoft," Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said in blog posting.

Privacy has become an increasingly important concern for American technology companies following the disclosures by Edward J. Snowden tying some of those companies to the National Security Agency's vast surveillance program. In response, some companies and governments have started to look elsewhere for computer services that offer greater protection for privacy.

International rivals, from Europe to South America, have gained some customers who are shunning American providers. Many of the major American companies have started to face some damage to their bottom lines because of the disclosures.

"The Snowden disclosures amounted to an earthquake for the tech sector," Mr. Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said in an interview Thursday. "There may continue to be aftershocks."

This is the second time this year that Microsoft has tried to distance itself in the highly competitive cloud computing industry from rivals like Amazon and I.B.M.

In January, Mr. Smith told The Financial Times that Microsoft was deepening its commitment to allowing customers to decide where their information was stored, in part because of concerns about spying by the N.S.A.

Microsoft already operates big data centers in Amsterdam and Dublin, allowing European customers to store their data locally. …

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