Google beefs up Apps to comply with EU data protection rules

Google Apps sales contracts with EU customers will have additional contractual safeguards developed by the EU

Google will now include additional provisions in its Apps sales contracts with E.U. customers to offer more assurances about the data they store in Google data centers.

The special safeguards come in the form of contractual "model clauses," which the E.U. developed to establish provisions and procedures for protecting data when transferred outside of the E.U. boundaries.

Data that Google Apps customers generate is stored, along with the suite software, in Google servers. The Google Apps cloud-based suite includes email, calendaring, productivity applications, intranet software and IT controls.

Including these E.U. "model clauses" in Apps contracts is "an additional means of meeting the adequacy and security requirements of the European Commission's Data Protection Directive," wrote Marc Crandall, senior manager of global compliance, Google Enterprise, in a blog post.

Google's privacy policies and practices have been a recurrent source of concern and criticism in the E.U. for years, and have led to some investigations and sanctions.

The company is confident that this step, along with its existing certifications and standards compliance for data security, "will provide our customers with an even wider palette of EU regulatory compliance options," Crandall wrote.

Microsoft took a similar step late last year regarding inclusion of these "model clauses" in its Office 365 contracts with E.U. customers. Office 365 is a direct competitor to Google Apps. It includes cloud-based versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office and Lync.

Google, Microsoft and other providers of enterprise cloud software are constantly seeking to comply with data security standards, rules and recommendations in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. These measures reduce legal liability and concern over this issue among existing and prospective customers, especially those in highly-regulated industries, like government, health care and finance.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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