Amazon has announced that it is launching a new "sovereign" cloud computing service in Germany aimed at satisfying EU privacy demands. (Photo by Cesc Maymo/Getty Images)


Amazon to launch ‘sovereign’ cloud in bid to satisfy EU privacy demands


US online e-commerce giant Amazon is launching a new “sovereign” cloud computing service in Germany aimed at satisfying European Union privacy demands.

It follows the likes of Google, Microsoft and Oracle that are launching similar services to meet Europe’s ever-increasing data privacy requirements.

According to a press release from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the new product is aimed at government customers and businesses that operate under stiff data regulations.

“AWS European Sovereign Cloud will be a new, independent cloud for Europe that gives customers in highly regulated industries and the public sector further choice and flexibility to address evolving data residency and resilience requirements in the European Union,” the press release reads.

The new service is designed to ensure all data stored on the cloud remains within EU borders and that all metadata related to the cloud can only be accessed by Amazon staff working within the bloc.

Reacting to the news, the President of Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) Claudia Plattner seemed pleased by the announcement. She said it would make it easier for many EU customers to avail of cloud computing.

“The development of a European AWS cloud will make it much easier for many public sector organisations and companies with high data security and data protection requirements to use AWS services,” Plattner said.

Others appeared less confident in the new product, saying it seemed likely that the privacy of such data could still easily be breached.

Speaking to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, internet expert Frank Karlitschek, who founded a decentralised alternative to traditional cloud computing, said AWS’ “sovereign” labelling of the service was fundamentally inaccurate.

“Sovereignty is the absence of strong dependencies on third parties,” he said.

“The Sovereign Cloud from AWS is a misnomer here.”

Thilo Weichert, a board member of the German Association for Data Protection, expressed scepticism that the new service would prevent the data of EU citizens from being illegally accessed abroad, especially by foreign governments.

“We have the problem that US authorities can legally have access to this data, for example via the CLOUD Act or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” he said.

According to the US Government, the CLOUD Act can be used to compel US-based companies to hand over data in their control to American authorities, even when that data is located within a different jurisdiction.