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Microsoft faces privacy challenge in Europe

Paul Brislen, Editor. 19 November 2018, 7:10 am

Dutch investigators are warning Microsoft the company could face mega-fines as it copes with the newly implemented General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which came into effect earlier this year.

According to the report, produced by EU-based Privacy Company on behalf of the Dutch government, Microsoft gathers personal data from users of a number of Office applications.

"Microsoft systematically collects data on a large scale about the individual use of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Covertly, without informing people. Microsoft does not offer any choice with regard to the amount of data, or possibility to switch off the collection, or ability to see what data are collected, because the data stream is encoded. Similar to the practice in Windows 10, Microsoft has included separate software in the Office software that regularly sends telemetry data to its own servers in the United States," the company says in a blog post relating to the report.

If found guilty of GDPR breaches, Microsoft could face fines of up to €20 million, or 4% of global annual turnover - a figure which is considerably higher.

Microsoft has agreed to make changes to a number of its products and has until April 2019 to comply with Dutch government requirements

As governments around the world look to cloud-based storage systems to reduce costs, issues of jurisdiction and territoriality will become more common. Currently, the New Zealand Privacy Act is under review with recommendations from a number of parties that we also implement GDPR-like regulations with regards to the collection of private data.


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