5 August 2014
I’ve never been a fan of government snooping, whether that’s in the US or here in the UK. Whilst I value the work that’s done to protect us from terrorist activities, there is a balance to be had between justifiable surveillance and excessive snooping. Yesterday, when I read that Microsoft was under pressure to hand over a customer’s emails – stored not in America, but in a DC in Dublin – to US authorities, I was shocked but not surprised. For me, this just feels like another step over the line of what’s acceptable. Shouldn’t they be building trust back up instead of throwing their weight around?
For EU countries, which shouldn’t be within reach of the Patriot Act, the ruling against Microsoft is worrying. In fact, since Snowden’s revelations we’ve noticed a surge in British customers. Many businesses are now looking for an entirely UK-based hosting provider simply for the peace of mind of knowing that US authorities can’t stake a claim over their data.
It’s important in all walks of life, including business, to respect your competition, and what I would say is that the measures taken by the American firms we share the playing field with are likely to be as robust as they possibly can be. It would be disingenuous to suggest that they don’t take data privacy seriously. However, this doesn’t change the fact that US authorities like the NSA can wield demands over their heads because of ties to America, however tenuous.
Personally, I would say that this issue also extends further than data privacy. It is also applicable when you consider the loss of money caused by foreign corporations siphoning profits out of Britain and back to their parent companies, wherever they may be located. The only way to stop this from happening and ensure that the benefits stay in Britain is to buy British. There are so many great UK alternatives to the major players from other nations and it makes sense to support our local businesses whenever we get the opportunity to do so.
I wish Microsoft good luck in their appeal against this demand, but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the data privacy debate, do you?