Microsoft has given its backing to Privacy Shield, lauding the Safe Harbour replacement as a "step in the right direction" for transatlantic transfers of personal data.
The first draft of Privacy Shield, the name given to the new framework to protect citizens' data transfers between Europe and the US, was published in February after the 15-year-old Safe Harbour agreement was canned when Edward Snowden revealed that it helped US intelligence agencies access personal data.
Microsoft boldly became the first big-name tech firm to endorse Privacy Shield on Monday despite widespread criticism of the framework for still failing to address concerns about US surveillance practices.
John Frank, Microsoft's vice president of European government affairs, said: "I'm pleased to announce today that Microsoft pledges to sign up for the Privacy Shield, and we will put in place new commitments to advance privacy as this instrument is implemented.
"We have reviewed the Privacy Shield documentation in detail, and we believe wholeheartedly that it represents an effective framework and should be approved."
However, Frank believes that Privacy Shield alone isn't enough to protect citizens' personal data.
"As a company, we have also said since last fall that no single legal instrument can address for all time all of the privacy issues on both sides of the Atlantic," he said.
"We continue to believe today that additional steps will be needed to build on the Privacy Shield after it is adopted, ranging from additional domestic legislation to modernisation of mutual legal assistance treaties and new bilateral and ultimately multilateral agreements. But we believe that the Privacy Shield as negotiated provides a strong foundation on which to build."
Microsoft has now committed to responding to any complaints about its participation in Privacy Shield within 45 days. The firm will also work with EU data protection bodies, which will gather tomorrow to discuss whether they will approve the data-sharing framework and resolve any disputes under the agreement.
There are many vocal critics of the Privacy Shield legislation, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which described the framework as "riddled with surveillance holes".
"It maintains the programme of mass surveillance against non-US persons that so disturbed the court, it denies Europeans effective remedy against a wide range of state surveillance programmes, and its proposed methods for dispute resolution are neither independent nor reach sufficiently deeply into the intelligence agencies’ practices," the EFF said.
Snowden also isn't too keen either, saying on Twitter in February: "It's not a 'Privacy Shield' it's an accountability shield. Never seen a policy agreement so universally criticised."
The issue of data storage and data transfers is becoming ever more important as organisations turn to cloud services, often to help overhaul IT environments to become more agile and embrace digital transformation projects.
V3 is hosting an event on cloud and its impact on business next week on 20 and 21 April, the V3 Cloud and Infrastructure Live event, which is free to register.
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