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Free Edu Versions of the Office Packages Banned in French Schools

November 28, 2022

On November 15, due to privacy concerns, the French Ministry of National Education required all schools to stop using the free versions of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.

The free versions of these collaborative working apps are not compliant with GDPR and the 2020 Schrems II EU court judgment, according to education minister Pap Ndiaye.

Read more about this topic here.

How Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace Violate Data Privacy

This action is due to data protection concerns: the educational offerings do not comply with either French IT strategy or European law.

The French government claims that these cloud services, Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, that store data in the US are violating European data protection laws like the GDPR and Schrems II, and the US-EU Privacy Shield.

Philippe Latombe, a member of the French National Assembly, explains that “Microsoft Office 365 may seem attractive at first glance, but offering this service for free is the ultimate in extremes and deserves unfair competition. It raises a serious question of sovereignty because it is above. Please tell us what you think about this matter“.

MoDem deputy Philippe Latombe's inquiry into the government offers a chance for clarification on the use of American online services in educational settings, as national data security may be at risk.

Ndiaye comes with an answer to this, that educational institutions should use collaborative suites from Europe “that host the data within the European Union and do not transfer it to the United States.”

It should be noted that in the European Union, not only France but also Germany forbid the use of Microsoft Office 365 in schools. Germany stated that "Microsoft Office 365 exchanges information with data centers in the United States" violates the GDPR, and it was prohibited in 2019 from the standpoint of protecting people's personal information.

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