Dutch ministries can keep using Yammer despite Patriot Act worries, minister says

Some members of parliament worry government data could secretly be seized by U.S. law enforcement agencies

Dutch ministries can keep using social networking tool Yammer for internal communication despite worries in the parliament that data could secretly be seized by U.S. law enforcement agencies under the U.S. Patriot Act, Liesbeth Spies, minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, said on Wednesday.

Yammer has been used by Dutch ministries for internal communication for a few years. The Ministry of the Interior has been using the social networking tool that allows users to communicate with each other through short messages since 2009, said Angélique van Drunen, spokeswoman for minister Spies. Yammer has for instance been used to share messages, collaborate on documents and for the exchange of agenda information.

The green political party of the Netherlands, GreenLeft, is worried about the government use of U.S.-based applications like Yammer, because the government cannot be certain how their data is handled by those companies. GreenLeft is in particular worried about the Patriot Act, because under that law, data from European users of U.S.-based cloud services can secretly be seized by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

By using Yammer, which was recently acquired by Microsoft, the government is leaking information, the party claims, and it called on the minister to "immediately close this leak."

However, minister Spies disagrees with this view. "I do not think there is a leak. And I therefore consider no further actions," she said in a letter sent to the parliament in which she responded to GreenLeft's concerns. There is no unlimited and uncontrolled access to the data by U.S. authorities, she wrote, referring to an earlier official response to Patriot Act issues in which she said that she was aware that it "cannot be excluded" that U.S. authorities have jurisdiction to demand access to data.

There also are rules that restrict social media use by Dutch government officials, which also apply to Yammer, Spies said. One of the principles of those rules is that it is forbidden to share confidential information, she added.

Yammer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the Dutch government is not particularly worried about U.S. authorities accessing their data using the Patriot Act, other governments are actively banning the use of U.S.-based cloud products.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, which is known to keep a short leash on U.S. IT companies, for instance banned the use of Google Apps in January because the cloud application violates the Norwegian privacy law. Enterprises that use Google Apps have no idea where in the world personal information is stored by Google, or who is able to access it, the authority said at the time. Therefore, Google is not allowed to offer its cloud services to Norwegian municipalities, public bodies and certain other enterprises.

European worries about the Patriot Act is also creating a market for local cloud providers that promote themselves as "a safe haven from the reaches of the U.S. Patriot Act."

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?