Microsoft has changed the Online Services Terms for Office 365

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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In 2019, the European Data Protection Supervisor investigated Microsoft’s alleged breach of European data protection laws. That body confirmed it had serious concerns regarding Microsoft’s contracts with European organizations. Microsoft has now published new Online Services Terms for Office 365.

In 2018, the Dutch Ministry of Justice launched its own investigation into MS Office’s hidden collection of telemetry data. In early 2019, the DMOJ claimed Microsoft was breaching the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation on eight accounts. Those breaches of the GDPR more specifically pertained to the telemetry data collection systems of Office 365 and Office Pro Plus. The DMOJ accused Microsoft of collecting personal data on a grand scale without correctly informing users.

That verdict sent alarm bells ringing in Brussels. The European Data Protection Supervisor followed up the original investigation in Holland. Later in 2019, the EDPS stated:

Though the investigation is still ongoing, preliminary results reveal serious concerns over the compliance of the relevant contractual terms with data-protection rules and the role of Microsoft as a processor for EU institutions using its products and services.

In response, Microsoft promised that it would change its cloud service contracts toward the end of 2019. Microsoft ‘s privacy officer stated:

[We] will clarify that Microsoft assumes the role of data controller when we process data for specified administrative and operational purposes incident to providing the cloud services covered by this contractual framework, such as Azure, Office 365, Dynamics, and Intune. The basic promise was to introduce greater transparency about data processing in Microsoft’s OST.

Now Microsoft has just published its new Online Service Terms for Office 365. That new OST is available for download in various languages from the Microsoft website. The new OST includes four key changes to the original. It is a 40-page document that does not authorize Microsoft to process customer data for commercial purposes unless the customer permits it.

Therefore, the new OST document makes it much clearer about how Microsoft Office 365 processes customer data. It will end the big M’s covert processing of customer data with Office 365 and Office Pro Plus.

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