Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 10 Banned in German Schools

German schools ban Microsoft Office 365 amid privacy concerns

"The cloud solutions of these providers are so far not transparent and transparent", the HBDI notes.

German schools weren't actually using iWork apps - but they did rely on Office 365.

Microsoft Office 365 is a pretty great subscription service from Microsoft. The municipalities have also been targeted heavily with lobbying from Microsoft itself, up to and including Steve Ballmer (then Microsoft's CEO) interrupting a ski vacation to fly to Munich to try to cut a pro-Microsoft deal in person.

Hesse data protection commissioner Michael Ronellenfitsch says the primary reason Office 365 in particular (as well as alternatives from Google and Apple) runs afoul of data protection issues is that the suite of tools stores the data of European children in a cloud that is exposed to and accessible by USA authorities. In August 2017, the HBDI ruled that Office 365 could legally be used by schools so long as the back end for the school accounts was stored in Microsoft's German-located cloud. This inadvertently prevents the German government from monitoring the data, which the HBDI says could be accessed by USA authorities.

For now, Office 365 is banned - although there is currently no talk of banning Windows despite the concerns voiced about it. The sovereignty of the processing must also be guaranteed. This means that the schools themselves cannot consent on behalf of students, and neither can their parents, according to the HBDI.

It seems that since the cloud-based software collects personal info and telemetry data related to customers, and that info is stored on firm servers, the concern is that USA authorities might compel access to that data.

The move comes amid a protracted debate in Germany over whether Microsoft software should be used in the country's schools and other state institutions at all due to the company's alleged practice of sending user and telemetry data back to the US.

Microsoft says it's working with Hesse authorities on resolving these concerns, albeit for the time being, it's not yet clear if the company is willing to restore its German server to store customer data locally. In short, we're thankful the Commissioner raised these concerns and we look forward to engaging further with the Commissioner on its questions and concerns related to Microsoft's offerings.

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