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Microsoft to shield foreign users’ data


Microsoft has suggested that overseas customers will be allowed to have their personal data stored in non-US data centers, The Financial Times reports, as many across the world fear the US government could spy on them.

Microsoft and several other big technology groups have recently opposed the American spying programs revealed by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

But tech companies are opposed to the new Microsoft’s decision, according to Brad Smith, general counsel of the company.

“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,” Smith said in an interview with the FT.

Customers can choose where to store their data from a variety of existing Microsoft data centers, said Smith.

It would be the most radical move yet by a US tech firm to combat concerns that US intelligence agencies routinely monitor foreigners.

Microsoft is worried about the public backlash to revelations by Snowden that the NSA directly taps into tech companies’ servers to spy on foreign individuals. Microsoft denies that, and has said that it only hands over customer data when properly requested by intelligence agencies.

Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech firms jointly called in December for reforms in the way the US government uses internet surveillance, lobbying for more transparency and a ban on bulk data collection.

Snowden downloaded classified documents of the NSA and leaked them to journalists in June, showing how the agency is spying on communications of millions of Americans and people from foreign countries.

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