The ruling follows years of debate over whether German schools and institutions should use Microsoft tools and services.
The German state of Hesse has ruled it’s illegal for its schools to use Office 365 after years of debate over whether the country’s schools and institutions should use Microsoft tools at all.
The Hesse Office for Data Protection and Information Freedom says the standard configuration in Office 365 could potentially make students’ and teachers’ personal data available to US officials, ZDNet reports. In addition to the information that users provide when they’re working in Office 365, the platform sends telemetry data back to the US. Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security also has expressed concern about telemetry data sent by the Windows OS.
European concerns about data transmitted to the US are not new. The Dutch government has already found Microsoft software in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and published a report citing concerns about data collection in Microsoft Office ProPlus. Germany’s federal association of municipal IT service providers also has complained that citizen information recorded in Office 365 could fall under surveillance when in the US.
It’s difficult for Germany to abandon Microsoft products because there aren’t many alternative options. Government officials are calling for the development of domestic cloud services, and ongoing lawsuits will determine the future of rules regarding the transfer of data to the US.
While those move through the courts, and while the German government works with Microsoft on a potential solution, German schools will not be using Office 365. Hesse’s privacy commissioner suggests they instead adopt similar tools with on-premise licenses.