In an effort to standardise computer software deployments and assist MPs with accessing their information any place, any time, the UK government has signed up to Microsoft’s Office365 service. Although it is easy to understand the cost benefits of adopting Cloud solutions, the choice of provider is surprising.
Microsoft famously uses datacentres located in Ireland and the Netherlands to store users’ data, raising serious questions about privacy. This is because, although the datacentres are likely to be extremely well-protected against cybercriminals and hacking, the same cannot be said about foreign government intervention.
Under the terms of the USA PATRIOT Act for instance, the US government can demand access to data stored by American organisations, regardless of where it may be physically located. As such, Microsoft could be compelled to hand over confidential data belonging to the British government without informing them.
To avoid such issues, the UK government perhaps should have chosen a UK-based provider of hosted desktop and Cloud file storage solutions. In this way, protecting against foreign intervention would not have been an issue. There would also have been a general increase in trust for British service providers, helping to boost the national economy and encouraging investment in the UK, rather than allowing the cash to go abroad.
MPs have already begun using the Office365 service and data is now being uploaded to Microsoft’s services on a daily basis. The government has yet to confirm how long the contract for service provision will run.
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