Microsoft just announced plans to open data centers in Germany next year, aiming to protect Europeans' digital data from U.S. spying.
U.S. government surveillance has stirred lots of controversy and criticism so far, with numerous consumers and companies voicing their concerns on the matter. Microsoft now plans to ease such concerns at least for its European customers.
The U.S.-based company said that it will open the new data centers in Germany around late 2016 and Deutsche Telekom will be in charge of their operation.
"German data trustee, Deutsche Telekom, will control and oversee all access to customer data," Microsoft notes in its press release.
"Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every individual on the planet to achieve more," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "Our new datacenter regions in Germany, operated in partnership with Deutsche Telekom, will not only spur local innovation and growth, but offer customers choice and trust in how their data is handled and where it is stored."
Tech analysts see this move as a major game changer, taking it as a sign that Microsoft acknowledges its inability to protect consumers' digital information from the U.S. government. Putting a German company in control of the data would reduce the risks, as Germany has some of the strictest data protection laws in Europe.
At the same time, Microsoft's move could have a big ripple effect on the whole industry, forcing other cloud companies to enforce new privacy policies to protect their customers' data from U.S. surveillance.
Government access to technology companies' data has been a sore topic for a good while now and the parties will likely not reach an agreement anytime soon. The U.S. government continues to request so-called "back doors," i.e. access to encrypted information, while technology companies continue to refuse, militating for their clients' privacy and security.
Microsoft, Apple, Google and other heavyweight tech companies are still trying to regain users' trust after the Snowden revelations regarding government surveillance, and constant requests from authorities demanding access to data are not making things any easier.
It remains to be seen how Microsoft's new strategy and partnership with Deutsche Telekom will pan out, but it sounds like a good alternative given the current situation.