UK Government slaps cloud providers into submission

The UK Competition and Markets Authority has concluded its review of Amazon, Apple and Microsoft’s cloud storage terms and conditions, and found them wanting.

The review itself was a look into whether the consumer cloud storage providers were compliant with consumer law in the UK. As a result, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have separately agreed to make changes to their respective terms and conditions, in areas such as notification periods before significant changes are made to the service, or if it is in fact suspended or cancelled.

“People rely on cloud storage to keep things such as treasured family photos, music, films and important documents safe, so it is important that they are treated fairly and should not be hit by unexpected price rises or changes to storage levels,” said Andrea Coscelli, the acting CEO of the CMA.

“We are pleased that Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have joined seven previous companies in working with the CMA and agreeing commitments to improve their terms and conditions and, as a result, millions of cloud storage users will benefit from fairer terms which will help them make the right choices when using cloud storage services.”

Amazon has agreed consumers will receive at least 30 days’ notice before their contract is

renewed, including details of changes to the price or service, although it still does include the terms ‘adequate notice’ in relation to material changes to the service. What Amazon decides adequate notice will be remains to be seen, but the inclusion of such grey areas seems to contradict the CMA review on a fundamental level.

The CMA has done a better job in addressing Apple however. Apple has now agreed to provide 30 days’ notice on any material adverse changes to the terms and/or the service, if the consumer is in non-material breach of the contract and therefore the contract will be terminated, and as well as termination of the contract due to a general discontinuance of the service.

Microsoft has also agreed to similar conditions, while both have also agreed to pro-rata refunds for services which have not been used, once a consumer has cancelled its contract.

While many of these conditions would be considered common sense, this is one of the main problems with T&C’s agreements; they are creatively written to allow for grey areas and wiggle room. In this case, the CMA has done quite well to pin down three of the world’s largest cloud storage providers.

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