Sensitive personal data for the authorities, privacy advocates warn of Microsoft-product-confidential data on the Swiss population will be edited with the Microsoft Office programs. There is a risk that US authorities gain access to, the cantonal data protection authorities to be feared.Fabian Fellmann1 Kommentar1Auch home a lot of authorities employees are working with the Office programs from Microsoft. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow (Keystone)

you are omnipresent, the Office programs from Microsoft. In many of the Swiss government offices, letters are written to residents with Word, including those with a volatile content, for example, dispositions of adult protection authorities or Decisions of tax and social security offices.

To become a Problem with the Corona pandemic, as well as thousands of employees in the public sector to the home office were sent. Suddenly, they needed opportunities, meetings held via video conferencing, to edit files from home, to write texts together.

A simple solution to the US-American IT-giant Microsoft held ready with the latest Version of its service package under the name of Microsoft 365 and its component Teams. “Easy, fast”, is the have to hand, sometimes even free of licensing fees, sings the praises of a cantonal in charge of IT on a platform for the exchange of Corona solutions. “The introduction has been achieved at various customers within one to two days.”

Sensitive data in the Cloud

critical the data protector see the. Microsoft 365 could be used “in public bodies (administrations, municipalities, etc.) during the Corona-crisis,” writes Zurich Representative on your Website. “The conditions for the exceptional situation are not met at present.”

what is Meant is: The officer does not conform to the Swiss Standards, if authorities will deal with sensitive information using the latest Microsoft products. These simplify the work processes by the data are not saved only in the internal network, but also in data centers in the Internet, so-called Clouds.

The risks are increased in this constellation,””, holding the data pads recently in a leaflet. They fear that the US could give authorities access to sensitive data from Swiss authorities. Microsoft has taken just two server center in Zurich and Geneva, in operation, in order to improve safety. Even there, the data are, however, according to the assessment of data protection not in front of the US authorities.

This could force access using the 2018 adopted law by the name of Cloud Act. Self-encryption to reduce the risk only if the contracts on the Swiss law referred and, in the case of a dispute, a Swiss court could decide.

No agreement in the conversation

The Zurich data protection authority has tried “to agree with Microsoft on data protection matters on Swiss law and Swiss jurisdiction,” as she writes in her annual report at the end of April published is. “Microsoft has not set on the wording proposed.”

The Zurich conducted the negotiations on behalf of all cantonal data protection. Similar discussions also took place with providers such as Google and Apple, their solutions, especially schools use. Always the authorities, and IT could be the giants. For schools, Microsoft also offered Hand – not, but for the administrations.

This has consequences: Many public administrations have prepared a removal of the Software, how well-informed people confirm. This means that you can dispense with the end of the extraordinary Covid-able to Microsoft 365, or other products are require. You could use the Cloud products from Microsoft still. However, the cantonal governments to stand for risks in just in financial terms, in the case of actions for damages, to warn the protection of data in your data sheet.

tug-of-war with the Federal administration

Also, the Federal government has recognized the Problem. It is currently testing “for a possible later use of temporary Cloud solutions”, such as for procurement, the competent Federal office for buildings and logistics (BBL) has announced. It has extended in the beginning of March his contract with Microsoft for the use of Office Software, with an order in the amount of 150 million euros over five years.

neither the Federal government nor Microsoft want to comment on how data protection is guaranteed in these contracts, they had agreed to confidentiality. In Bern, however, is to hear the Federal government had succeeded, though only after some tough negotiations. A prolonged tug-of-war, the fact indicates that the old contract expired at the end of 2019, the new one could be completed only in March, and a transitional arrangement was needed.

Once more, the Federal government has awarded the contract to Microsoft despite the high volume, without a public tender. There is no other provider is out of the question, argues the BBL: “The office job Federal is standardized and is based on the Microsoft products.” The Federal Council, but will now check, whether he can this dependence, at least for the Cloud services reduce: in the middle of April he has decided to check whether Switzerland should seek a private Cloud and data infrastructure.

Switzerland is to conclude agreements with U.S.

Against such a “Swiss Cloud,” argues Microsoft. The US Cloud giants are “from an IT perspective, virtually uncatchable. This one is for the Affected unpleasant but true truth,” wrote Switzerland-President Marianne Jannik recently in a guest commentary in the NZZ. Issues of this newspaper, the company did not reply. To Express “the Details of the contractual cooperation with our customers, we are basically in the Public,” according to a spokesman.

In an Interview with the Newspapers of CH Media, a Microsoft Manager’s perspective at the beginning of the year, the importance of the Cloud Act: These come only in case of a suspicion of criminal activity to use it will not be fished indiscriminately according to the data. Microsoft do, but for Switzerland is a priority, an agreement with the United States as well as various eat, which governs, in principle, the cases in which American or Swiss law. Such a contract also have encouraged members of the Swiss Parliament; the Federal Council has promised to investigate the matter.

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