We have seen the higher authorities of Germany taking serious steps when their resident’s privacy comes at a risk. And this time, Germany has banned Microsoft Office 365 in the state of Hesse due to privacy concern.
Hessian Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) issued a statement regarding the ban of Office 365 in the school. HBDI has also targeted Google and Apple because they are not properly following the privacy rules and regulations made for German schools.
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 comprehensibly set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools the privacy-compliant use is currently not possible.-HBDI
Why Microsoft is being targeted?
In 2017, HDBI allowed the use of Office 365 for teaching and other purposes in the schools of Germany. HBDI did this by first making an agreement that all the data of the users must remain in the country. To make sure that data are not being sent to the USA or other countries, a third-party German data trustee known as Deutsche Telekom took the responsibility to monitor the stored data in Microsoft data centers located in Germany.
One year later, Microsft closed the German cloud data centers thus breaking the agreement. The German schools then shifted their accounts to the European clouds. After all these, HBDI warned the German schools to stop using Office 365 because European cloud may offer access to US authorities. After receiving several warning, the school still continued to use Office 365 for teaching purposes.
Micheal Ronellenfitsch who is Hesse’s data protection commissioner has warned that Microsoft may share the student data with the US.
Microsft has still not come up with a solution. But this situation might force the company to restart the Data Trustee model. Seeing many news reports related to this ban, Microsft said, “We look forward to working with the Hessian Commissioner to better understand their concerns”. Meanwhile, HBDI has asked schools to stop using Office 365 and use its alternative like OpenOffice.