EU data protection authorities probe public sector bodies use of cloud services

CIO Review Europe | Thursday, March 04, 2021

A coordinated enforcement action focused on public sector bodies’ use of cloud services is kicking off across the European Union

FREMONT, CA: More than 80 public bodies in a variety of sectors, including health, finance, tax, education, and IT service supply and procurement, will be contacted by local data protection authorities, who will conduct fact-finding exercises and questionnaires, as well as formal investigations if privacy concerns are identified.

The European Data Protection Board announced its plan to target public sector cloud services use last October, but today marks the start of action at a national level, which the Board expects to take part in this year, with a performance report due by the end of 2022, according to a spokeswoman.

The CEF's purpose, according to the EDPB, is to unify the approaches taken by individual supervisory agencies to ensure that EU data protection law is applied consistently.

The European Data Protection Supervisor, which last year opened its investigation into contracts between EU institutions and US cloud giants AWS and Microsoft as part of its oversight of their compliance with the bloc's data protection rules, is joining the EDPB's sweep across the European Economic Area.

The CEF action does not replace individual investigations, and many are expected to continue, but it does enhance them and may even lead to new ones by focusing attention on government usage of cloud services and contract terms, which commonly involve data transfers outside of the EU.

Since July 2020 judgment by the EU's top court, which annulled a major data transfer agreement between the EU and the US, escalating the legal ambiguity surrounding cross border personal data transfers — cloud connections with US firms have been subjected to increased scrutiny in the EU.Several authorities have found violations of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation linked to popular programmes like Google Analytics due to personal data being exported to the United States.

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