• Mark Hodgkinson

How to move my data to the EU before Google (G Suite) (GMail) shifts it to the United States?

Updated: Mar 3

Last week Google notified its users that “because the UK is leaving the EU, we’ve updated our terms so that a United States-based company, Google LLC, is now your service provider instead of Google Ireland Limited. We’ve also changed our privacy policy to make Google LLC the data controller responsible for your information and for complying with applicable privacy laws.”

This comes down to cost of course & other online service providers may well make the same decision, after weighing the financial, commercial and legal costs of storing UK users’ data locally.

At the moment, it should be a moot point. UK data is covered by the Data Protection Act 2018, which is the UK’s version of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). One problem is that the UK may lowers its data protection levels to US standards as part of a US trade deal.

Another problem is that even if we maintain EU-level regulations, there is no guarantee that the US will observe them. Given 'the Donalds' actions since taking the US presidency, it is hard to imagine that the situation has improved since Edward Snowden told all.

It is hard to be sure where your data is stored because service providers can and do rent space in other people’s hyperscale data centres.

However, as far as we beliece only Microsoft and Amazon (AWS) have their own server farms in the UK. Google’s are in Dublin, Belgium, Denmark and Finland. Facebook’s are in Dublin and Denmark.

Microsoft has a site in Dublin, of course, but it also has data centres in London, Durham and Cardiff.

At the moment, Microsoft is the only major service provider to host UK data in the UK.

Presumably, this is a commercial decision based on selling Office 365 and Azure cloud services to the British government and businesses that actually care where their data is stored.

Consumers who use Microsoft’s webmail do not have any control over where their data is stored. As a matter of principle, Microsoft stores it for best performance. Local storage is therefore the most likely option but that could depend on network speeds and whether there is enough local storage available.

Again, it should be a moot point. Microsoft has been pushing for higher data protection standards in the US, and it responded to the GDPR by “levelling up”. That is to say, it applies GDPR standards for all users in all countries, even if the local regulations allow lower standards.

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