By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS – EU privacy watchdog EDPS opened on Thursday two investigations into EU institutions’ use of cloud computing services provided by Amazon and Microsoft, concerned about the transfer of Europeans’ personal data to the United States.
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said one of the investigations will focus on the use of Microsoft Office 365 by the European Commission.
The EU watchdog said EU bodies were relying more and more on cloud-based software and cloud infrastructure or platform services from large U.S. ICT providers which are subject to legislation that allows disproportionate surveillance activities by the U.S. authorities.
“Following the outcome of the reporting exercise by the EU institutions and bodies, we identified certain types of contracts that require particular attention and this is why we have decided to launch these two investigations,” EDPS head Wojciech Wiewiorowski said in a statement.
Market leader Amazon, Alphabet unit Google and Microsoft dominate the realm of data storage worldwide, fuelling concerns in Europe over the risk of surveillance by the United States.
Such worries prompted Europe’s highest court last year to toss out a transatlantic data transfer deal known as the Privacy Shield following a long-running dispute between Facebook and Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.