Microsoft and Google 'hand over data to Saudi assassins'

A luxury conference in Riyadh in February brought together representatives from some of the world's biggest technology companies.

The event was part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Orama 2030 or “Vision 2030” plan to transform Saudi Arabia, known for its oil reserves and ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, into a technology and innovation hub.

vision 2030

Tech chiefs met with Saudi officials and its designers Neom, the $1 trillion futuristic data megacity being built in the northwest of the kingdom and the centerpiece of the crown prince's vision.

Soon after, Saudi officials announced that they had secured $9 billion in investments from the companies, including a $2 billion plan with Microsoft to build a cloud storage facility in the kingdom.

A similar announcement from Google said that will create a cloud in the kingdom.

But as tech companies race to secure lucrative contracts in Saudi Arabia, human rights activists warn that Saudi officials could use the vast troves of digital information stored in the kingdom to step up their persecution of any dissidents.

They also warn the technology companies Microsoft and Google that they will be forced to hand over private data to Saudi assassins.

In one report released in May, Human Rights Watch warned that under Saudi law, security services have sweeping powers to access data and can compel companies to hand over private information for national security reasons.

It said that Google and Microsoft, two of the world's biggest technology companies, refuse to disclose how they will protect the privacy of data that willthey are in the kingdom.

Marwa Fatafta, an analyst at digital rights group Access Now, described Saudi Arabia as a country with a "dismal" human rights record.

"There are serious concerns about data protection, privacy, and surveillance," he said. "Have [Google and Microsoft] really considered how they plan to mitigate potential human rights violations or privacy violations by creating such infrastructure?"

"A Google cloud center under Saudi jurisdiction would deliver our sensitive data on a silver platter to top Saudi assassins," reported last year to the New York Post by Rewan Al-Haddad, campaign manager for a group called S,umOfUs. The Best Technology Site in Greecefgns

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Written by giorgos

George still wonders what he's doing here ...

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