SELECT KEEPS A CLOSE EYE ON MICROSOFT’S CLOUD DATA PRIVACY POSITION

Select Legal continues to embrace the very latest and best cloud tools from Microsoft for integration with LAWFUSION, to ensure they can consistently offer maximum benefits to their law firm clients. On behalf of clients (existing and future) the team at Select keeps abreast of Micorosoft’s privacy position.

For example, Office 365 is proving a very popular choice with many different types of business including law firms. However, OneDrive, a Microsoft tool which comes as part of Office 365, came under the privacy spotlight earlier this year. OneDrive, a file hosting service that allows users to upload and sync files on the cloud then access them via a web browser, came under criticism because data stored on OneDrive is subject to monitoring by Microsoft, and any content that is in violation of Microsoft’s Code of Conduct is subject to removal and may lead to temporary or permanent shutdown of an account.

Also Microsoft was involved with a court case in 2013 when a New York Judge ruled the software giant must disclose customer information (the contents of an email) to US Law Enforcement, even though it was held on a server in Dublin.

Select recognised this kind of privacy scenario may not be acceptable to some law firms, so they put out a warning previously advising any firms with concerns to disable their OneDrive functionality and seek further advice.

However, in April this year The European Union’s data protection authorities found that Microsoft’s enterprise cloud contracts do in fact meet with EU privacy law. Microsoft have said in effect the personal data stored in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud is subject to Europe’s privacy standards no matter where that data is located. Microsoft’s announcement went on to explain that the EU approval required that a short standardized addendum be added to current agreements in order to take advantage of this new recognition and at the time they promised to create a very simple process to facilitate this.

Since then Microsoft has updated its service agreement (31 July 2014) covering both Office 365 and OneDrive. The new Microsoft Service Agreement includes sections: “Who Can Access My Content?” and “What Does Microsoft Do With My Content?“ and before they issued it Microsoft pledged to make its privacy statements easier for users to digest. Their new agreement is presented in an FAQ-style with clear explanations of the types of information it collects and how it is used.

All of this said, it may not entirely allay all concerns. If you are still unsure about OneDrive – you can always disable the functionality in your Office 365 suite until you seek advice. Firms can of course consult The Law Society, who regularly issue practice notes on this subject, and if you work with the Legal Aid Agency or the Ministry of Justice, both of these bodies will be able to help you too.

If you want information on LAWFUSION or LAWFUSION integrations please call Select on 01482 567601.

NB: The new Microsoft Service Agreement (31 July 2014) covers: Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Microsoft account, Microsoft Family Safety, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Writer (these services are collectively referred to as the “Windows Services”); Office.com, Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium, Microsoft Office 365 University, and other Microsoft Office-branded services that link to this Agreement through a supplemental agreement (the “Office Services”); Bing; and MSN are the primary services this Agreement covers.