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EU antitrust regulators test Microsoft competitors on requesting customer data


European Union antitrust regulators are asking Microsoft’s rivals what kind of customer data they are required to provide to the US tech giant as part of their Azure cloud contracts, six months after a trade group complained about its cloud computing practices.

Cloud Infrastructure Providers in Europe (CISPE), whose members include Amazon, alleged last November that Microsoft’s new contractual terms imposed on Oct. 1 along with other practices harm the European cloud computing ecosystem.

In a questionnaire sent to cloud service providers seen by Reuters, the European Commission asked recipients for a list of contractual clauses that required these companies to report information about their European customers to Microsoft.

“The Commission has received several complaints regarding Microsoft, including in relation to its Azure product, which we are evaluating based on our standard procedures,” said a spokesperson for the EU executive.

The EU competition enforcer wanted to know the frequency of reports, the period for which data was requested, the format of the report, and whether the information was sent directly to Microsoft or to an auditor.

Recipients, who were given until this week to respond, were asked if there were contractual, actual or threatened consequences for not complying with the terms.

The EU watchdog asked whether Microsoft used the information to go directly to recipient customers.

Microsoft, which has been hit by more than 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion or approximately Rs. 147.17 crores) in EU fines in the past decade for various antitrust violations, declined to comment.

It has made an offer to CISPE in an effort to settle the case and talks are ongoing, according to a person familiar with the matter.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.