Bonum Certa Men Certa

EPO and Microsoft Collude to Break the Law -- Part IX: Know Your Vendor…

Previous parts:



A big brother-like spy
The never-ending saga of Microsoft's run-ins with European data protection authorities



Summary: Microsoft is one of the world's worst offenders when it comes to privacy, but vendor assessment by the EPO conveniently overlooks the law

Even before GDPR came into effect in May 2018, data protection regulators in some European countries were starting to have their doubts about whether Microsoft's flagship product, its Windows operating system, was compliant with European data protection standards.



The first national authority to kick into action was the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL).

Following an investigation which concluded in June 2016, CNIL issued Microsoft with a formal notice to comply with French data protection regulations. CNIL also ruled that the decision should be made public, given the scale of the violations in question.

"Following an investigation which concluded in June 2016, CNIL issued Microsoft with a formal notice to comply with French data protection regulations. CNIL also ruled that the decision should be made public, given the scale of the violations in question."No fewer than six violations of the French Data Protection Act were identified by CNIL, including continued transfer of data based on Safe Harbor principles despite the fact that the Safe Harbour Agreement had been invalidated by the CJEU in October 2015.

Microsoft was given three months – until 30 September 2016 – to end the identified violations of French Data Protection law or else face the prospect of a fine of up to €150,000.

In June 2017, it was reported that Microsoft had scaled back the volume of data it collected from Windows 10 PCs by "almost half". This led CNIL to announce that Windows 10 was no longer in breach of the country's data protection laws and that it had decided to close the case.

But that was only the first chapter in the never-ending saga of Microsoft's run-ins with European data protection authorities.

"Microsoft was given three months – until 30 September 2016 – to end the identified violations of French Data Protection law or else face the prospect of a fine of up to €150,000."A few months later in October 2017, it was reported that the Dutch data protection authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) had come to the conclusion that Microsoft was in breach of Dutch data protection law due to the way it processed the personal data of Windows 10 users.

According to the Dutch data watchdog, Microsoft made it impossible for users to give their valid consent to their personal data being processed due to the multiple ways in which that data might subsequently be used.

The Dutch regulator noted that Microsoft had promised to end its "violations", but warned that a failure to do so could lead it to impose a sanction.

After some back and forth with the regulator, Microsoft submitted a revised version of its software in April 2018. However, in the course of testing the revised version the Dutch agency found fresh grounds for concern, discovering what it called in a press release "new, potentially unlawful, instances of personal data processing".

"After some back and forth with the regulator, Microsoft submitted a revised version of its software in April 2018. However, in the course of testing the revised version the Dutch agency found fresh grounds for concern, discovering what it called in a press release "new, potentially unlawful, instances of personal data processing"."In the meantime GDPR had entered into force, and this led the Dutch data protection authority to refer its concerns to the competent lead EU privacy regulator under the new regulations. This was the national data protection authority where Microsoft's regional HQ for the EU is located, namely the Irish Data Protection Commission.

And so the seriously under-resourced Irish DPC added the Microsoft GDPR non-compliance case to an already long list of files concerning the cross-border data processing activities of multiple tech giants which had accumulated on its docket since the GDPR came into force in May 2018.

According to the most recently available reports from May 2020 the Microsoft case is still pending before the Irish Data Protection Commission.

The situation in the Netherlands became even hotter for Microsoft with the decision of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security in 2018 to commission a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) to be carried out on a range of Microsoft products, including Office 365.

"The situation in the Netherlands became even hotter for Microsoft with the decision of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security in 2018 to commission a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) to be carried out on a range of Microsoft products, including Office 365."The DPIA was commissioned because this was a clear-cut case of data processing on a large scale (by 300,000 government employees) which involved personal data, including data that could be potentially used to track the activities of employees.

The aim of the exercise was to assess the extent to which Microsoft's Office Online and the Mobile Office Apps could be deployed in a GDPR-compliant manner by Dutch government organisations.

The scope of the investigation included the five most commonly used Office 365 applications – Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel and Microsoft Teams – in Office Online and the Mobile Office apps, in combination with the use of cloud storage services.

The final report [PDF], which was published in November 2018, identified a number of serious data protection risks, in particular the following:

● Loss of control over the use of personal data; ● Loss of confidentiality; ● Inability to exercise rights; ● Re-identification of pseudonymised data; ● Unlawful (further) processing.

It was noted that effective risk mitigation was outside of the users' control and could only be carried out by Microsoft.

"It was noted that effective risk mitigation was outside of the users' control and could only be carried out by Microsoft."The investigation found an unacceptable lack of control by users over the processing of personal data by Office 365 mobile applications. Because of this government organisations were advised to create policies for their employees stating that they were not to use mobile Office 365 applications.

As we shall see in the next part, the investigation by the Dutch authorities into the GDPR-compliance of Microsoft products prompted the European Data Protection Supervisor to announce its own investigation into Microsoft products used by EU institutions.

Recent Techrights' Posts

[Meme] Demoralising and Putting Down Your Staff
unproductive and dangerous approach
This Week's Letter to António Campinos About Mean-Spirited Line Managers at the European Patent Office (EPO)
Seems like a way to get rid of staff. Some will resign in anger.
Software in the Public Interest (SPI) & Debian obfuscated structure fooled suicide victim's family: the ultimate example of bad faith
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
IRC logs for Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Gemini Links 22/02/2024: What We Pass On and HTTP Header Viewer
Links for the day
Manuel Estrada Sainz (ranty), Andres Garcia (ErConde) & Debian Deaths overworking
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
GNU/Linux Rising to 8% of Desktops/Laptops in Jordan?
what statCounter shows
[Meme] If Iraq Launches an Investigation Into How Microsoft Bought OpenAI Without Paying for It
fake "money" from Microsoft
Windows Has Fallen to 13% Market Share in Iraq (It was 100% Just 15 Years Ago), GNU/Linux Rose Sharply in Recent Years
In recent years Iraq was developing its own GNU/Linux distro
Springtime is Next, Here's What We Plan for March and April
This month and next month we expect to publish something unique about EPO abuses every day
Studying the Freedom of firefox-123.0.tar.bz2
The "F" in Firefox
Abraham Raji, Jens Schmalzing & debian-private cover-ups after deaths, accidents, suicides
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Microsoft Bribes, Keeping Regulators at Bay
crime and corruption
[Meme] The Quotas Came From Above
EPO targets
EPO Talent Planning & Architecture is Another Attack on EPO Staff and the Central Staff Committee (CSC) Explains Why
ignore the flowery words
[Meme] Just Following Orders From "The Fu**ing President" António Campinos
Salary? OBEY!
Links 21/02/2024: China Working on West-less Tech Future, More Bounties on Patent Troll Leigh M. Rothschild (Which IBM et al Failed to Dismantle at the Root)
Links for the day
Links 21/02/2024: Encryption Backdoors Deemed Not Legal, Decentralised Web Under Attack
Links for the day
Games:Steam Audio as Free Software, Hazard Pay, ChipWits, and More
7 stories for today
Julian Assange, Wikileaks & Debian-private
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, February 20, 2024
IRC logs for Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Links 21/02/2024: Microsoft Sued for Monopolistic Policies, More Layoffs Planned for Next Month
Links for the day
Gemini Links 20/02/2024: Time Management System and Communications
Links for the day
Techrights' Statement on Julian Assange Verdict (February 20th, 2024) - Updated Throughout the Day
Techrights observes today's disturbing attempts to extradite a journalist for committing acts of journalism
Links 20/02/2024: More GAFAM Layoffs, Assange Missing From His Trial for Heath Reasons (the UK's Own 'Navalny Treatment')
Links for the day
[Meme] But the Boss Said...
"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer."
An EPC-Violating Patent Granting Process: Unlawful Orders, According to the Central Staff Committee of the European Patent Office (EPO)
One can hope there's another strike (work stoppage) planned
In Cuba, Windows Dips to 'Market Share' of 16.8% and GNU/Linux Keeps Growing (Now ~6% of Desktops and Laptops)
it's harder for Microsoft to push Cubans around
[Meme] Code of Conduct (CoC): Too Much Power in the Wrong Hands
Might makes right?
[Video] For Software Freedom Avoid Free Bait
do not take any of this for granted
[Video] Trouble at Mozilla Means Trouble for Firefox and for the Web
The era of the open Web is ending
[Video] Microsoft Layoffs: It's Worse Than the Media Makes It Seem
Microsoft's fraudulent accounting
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 19, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, February 19, 2024
Gemini Links 20/02/2024: Kids Cannot Write, Misfin-Server, and More
Links for the day