Technology

Microsoft to let non-US users store data overseas

Anti-NSA protestor Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Leaks about US spying have prompted protests from citizens and governments

Microsoft is to let its customers outside the United States choose where their data is stored.

The software giant's move comes in response to ongoing revelations about the extent of surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Moving data away from North America should ensure it is harder for spy agencies to scrutinise it.

European governments have voiced fears about NSA surveillance and have led calls to overhaul privacy laws.

Details about Microsoft's policy change came to light in a Financial Times interview with Brad Smith, its general counsel.

Customers should know which country's laws applied to examination of their data, Mr Smith was quoted as saying, and should be able to pick where that data was stored.

In addition, he said, customers could choose exactly which European data centre they would like to hold their data.

The relocation system will only be available to business and government customers.

Leaks about the NSA's surveillance systems had undermined trust in many US tech firms, Mr Smith added.

The decision by Microsoft could put it at odds with technology partners who have previously criticised calls to store data on customers in the countries where they trade or live.

Tech firms have said that requiring them to put data centres in every nation would be prohibitively expensive.

Information about the scope of NSA surveillance, which emerged in papers released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, led Brazil to call for data to stay in-country, to limit the opportunities the NSA had to examine it.

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