Microsoft will allow foreign customers to have their personal data stored on servers outside the U.S., breaking ranks with other big technology groups that until now have shown a united front in response to the American surveillance scandal.
Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft, said that although many tech companies were opposed to the idea, it had become necessary following leaks that showed the U.S. National Security Agency had been monitoring the data of foreign citizens from Brazil to across the EU.
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"People should have the ability to know whether their data are being subjected to the laws and access of governments in some other country and should have the ability to make an informed choice of where their data resides," he told the FT.
Mr Smith added that customers could choose where to store their data from a variety of existing Microsoft data centers. For example, a European client could choose to have their data stored in the group's Irish data center.