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Swiss government finalises cloud contracts with five tech firms

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Cables of the cloud: a server in Zurich. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Authorities have penned contracts to outsource the storage of certain data to cloud servers managed by Alibaba, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle.

The deals are worth CHF110 million ($111) and limited to five years, the government wroteExternal link on Tuesday. It added that the framework conditions outlined in each of the five contracts are identical, and that the Federal Chancellery is looking into the legal possibility of making them publicly available.

The Swiss decision to outsource a certain amount of data storage sparked attention when announced last summer, notably due to the appearance of a Chinese firm (Alibaba) in the final list and the absence of any Swiss provider. General security fears were also raised, including by the Swiss Data Protection Commissioner, who said some of his concerns had not been properly addressed during the tender process.

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On Tuesday, the government still didn’t say exactly what data would be involved, but clarified that the clouds will be used to store public information which is “not in need of particular protection”. It also said that federal departments which wish to use the clouds will first have to clarify why, as well as to verify that their outsourcing complies with Swiss laws on data protection.

Meanwhile, although the contracts are now finalised, the government is not going to officially buy or use the cloud storage yet: it first has to wait for a federal court verdict on a citizen complaint about giving national data to foreign-based cloud operators.

The Federal Administrative Court also previously looked into a separate complaint brought by Google after it lost its bid to win a part of the contract. Google later dropped the appeal.

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