Knowledge base

March 09, 2024

The EU-Microsoft 365 Privacy Battle

In a landmark development, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has found that the European Commission’s use of Microsoft 365 violates strict EU data protection rules. This decision highlights the growing tension between the convenience of cloud-based productivity suites and the urgent need to protect sensitive data, especially within government agencies.

🚩 Key Points of Decision:

  • EDPS investigation: Started in May 2021, focusing on transatlantic data transfers and AVG (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance.
  • U.S. Legislation: As an American company, Microsoft falls under laws such as the CLOUD Act, which could give U.S. authorities access to data on Microsoft’s servers.
  • Safeguards Shortfall: The European Commission has not implemented sufficient safeguards for data transfers to the U.S., leaving EU citizen data potentially vulnerable.

🎯 Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Insufficient Safeguards: Lack of protection when sending personal data outside Europe.
  • Necessity of Microsoft 365: The Commission could not adequately justify the essential use of Microsoft 365.
  • Privacy Check Before: The Commission’s initial privacy check was not thorough enough.

Possible Consequences:

  • Tight Deadline: It has until Dec. 9, 2024, to completely stop all data flows to Microsoft and its U.S. partners.
  • Potential Fines: Failure to comply could result in substantial fines and reputational damage to the EU.

🔄 Commission Response:

It acknowledged receipt of the EDPB’s decision and stressed the need to analyze the reasoning “in detail.” She expressed confidence in their compliance with applicable data protection rules and pointed to “several improvements” that had already been made in contracts with the EDPS.

🤔 The Dilemma: Privacy versus Disruption

It highlighted the potential significant disruption if forced to discontinue Microsoft 365, underscoring the tension between maintaining a seamless operational flow and ensuring ironclad data protection.

🚀 What’s in store for us?

The Commission vowed to carefully analyze the EDPS decision, indicating a period of internal deliberation. Will they prioritize compliance, possibly at the expense of operational convenience, or will they seek a compromise solution?

The answer will have broader implications for the future of data management within the European Union.


The recent EU-Microsoft 365 case highlights the importance of effective cloud governance and data protection. For companies seeking to ensure compliance and optimal utilization of cloud technologies, ALTA-ICT offers specialized governance services.

Do you want to ensure the privacy and security of your data? ALTA-ICT is ready to help you. Contact us for expert support in your digital transformation.

📞 Contact ALTA-ICT for a future-proof cloud strategy.

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