Bring your own key to @Office365 - Coming, hopefully, in 2016. This is HUGE from Julia White

Dan Holme

by Dan Holme on 5/4/2015

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Julia White made a huge statement: Microsoft hears customers' requests for bring-your-own-key (BYOK) and stated that Microsoft is working on it, and hopes to make it happen in 2016.

This is the first time I, personally, have heard such a direct public statement about BYOK. It's the holy grail for a service like Office 365. Effectively, it means that Microsoft itself cannot access your data at all. The customer holds the key.

While this is important for security, the bigger "win" here is a privacy one. With the disclosures of activities by organizations like the NSA, and with concerns about the US Patriot Act, some customers are concerned about putting their data in Office 365 for fear of that data being turned over to a government authority, either behind closed doors or through subpoena.

With BYOK in its purest form, Microsoft cannot technically turn over your data if Microsoft is subpoenaed by something like the US Patriot Act or similar legal channels in other countries. Instead, the customer must also be subpoenaed. This would ensure that customers are aware when and if their data must be turned over for legal reasons, and in theory would add enough political complexity to reduce the potential of that ever happening.

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