Two of Microsoft’s leading software packages have been blacklisted from German schools over privacy concerns. According to the Hesse Office for Data Protection and Information Freedom, Windows 10 and Office 365 are now illegal to use because they transmit telemetry data back to the US.
Germany wouldn’t have a problem with it if the data stayed inside the country, but that’s not the case. Officials are worried because the telemetry extends beyond standard software diagnostics to sensitive user content such as documents and emails.
To allay privacy fears in Germany, Microsoft invested millions in a German cloud service, and in 2017 Hesse authorities said local schools could use Office 365. If German data remained in the country, that was fine, Hesse’s data privacy commissioner, Michael Ronellenfitsch, said.
But in August 2018 Microsoft decided to shut down the German service. So once again, data from local Office 365 users would be data transmitted over the Atlantic. Several US laws, including 2018’s CLOUD Act and 2015’s USA Freedom Act, give the US government more rights to ask for data from tech companies.