DGerman data protection authorities shy away from very little, certainly not US tech giants. In late November, the Data Protection Conference, the body of independent data protection authorities in Germany, struck out against Microsoft From: She expressed serious concerns about Office 365, the cloud-based software package that is common to millions of offices. What happens to the data on Microsoft’s servers is very opaque.
In the future, companies will need to ensure that customer and employee data remains secure when using Word, Excel or Teams. “It’s going to be difficult,” says Baden-Württemberg data protection officer Stephan Brink, whose state Office 365 can only be used in schools under strict conditions.
Microsoft itself immediately denied the convention’s interpretation, saying that the company adheres to strict European Union data protection rules. The idea of a data protection officer is now explicitly supported by the federal government as well.
This comes from a response to a short request by CDU MP Mark Biedakj, obtained by FAS. It states: “The federal government basically shares the assessment of the Data Protection Officer of the State of Baden-Württemberg, Stephan Brink, regarding data protection problems when using Office 365 products from Microsoft in public administration.” Demonstrate the lawfulness of the processing of personal data”.
“Measures that make the use of products unnecessary”
This lack of clarity creates particular difficulties for federal institutions to prove that data processing is taking place within a statutory purpose. This is the only way that “the processing of personal data is at all possible in such an environment”. According to the federal government, the tests required are “intensive and involve considerable effort”.
According to its own statements, the federal government has “implemented measures that make the use of these products generally unnecessary for the federal government”. According to the government, most ministries are currently not using Office 365 or are using it only in pilot projects. The situation is different at the Federal Foreign Office of Foreign Minister Annalena Barebock. According to the federal government, the software is used as part of “special needs foreign IT”—an office for all things in which the secret services of other countries might be particularly interested.
The Ministry of the Environment and Economic Development also holds the license. At the time of going to press, a request to FAS about how the government’s concerns could be reconciled by the Federal Foreign Office was left unanswered.
The confusing situation is criticized by the opposition. CDU Man Biadacz, member of the Bundestag’s digital committee, demands: “Microsoft and the data protection authorities must act now to clarify legal concerns quickly and transparently.” At a time when municipal administrations in particular are doing an enormous amount, it cannot be that “they have to radically transform their IT to meet data protection requirements”.
Freelance twitter maven. Infuriatingly humble coffee aficionado. Amateur gamer. Typical beer fan. Avid music scholar. Alcohol nerd.