Microsoft announced Wednesday the company will begin offering foreign customers overseas data storage to alleviate concerns about domestic spying within the U.S. by the National Security Agency.
Financial Times reports Microsoft decided to provide the option to international clients after leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the signals intelligence agency hacked the company’s network to surveil European and Brazilian citizens.
Canada discussed making a similar offer to Silicon Valley’s tech giants earlier this month, which would give them the option of storing data in large warehouse-like structures north of the U.S. border to address increasing privacy concerns among U.S. customers. Offers like Canada’s could drain $35 billion out of the U.S. economy in just three years.
However there is nothing to suggest moving data currently stored in the U.S. internationally would increase protection in any way — it may do the opposite.
The NSA’s mission is to intercept foreign signals — signals which have no lawful privacy protections like those provided by the Fourth Amendment and numerous judicial privacy rulings. The agency’s official mandate arguably makes accessing foreign data easier than domestic.
A specific program called MUSCULAR, leaked by Snowden and published in The Washington Post, specifically targets overseas data hubs, and hacks into networks through international fiber cable connections.
Microsoft is the only company to officially announce a program for storing data internationally in response to NSA surveillance.