AWS and EU data transfers: strengthened commitments to protect customer data

Last year we published a blog post describing how our customers can transfer personal data in compliance with both GDPR and the new “Schrems II” ruling. In that post, we set out some of the robust and comprehensive measures that AWS takes to protect customers’ personal data.

Today, we are announcing strengthened contractual commitments that go beyond what’s required by the Schrems II ruling and currently provided by other cloud providers to protect the personal data that customers entrust AWS to process (customer data). Significantly, these new commitments apply to all customer data subject to GDPR processed by AWS, whether it is transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or not. These commitments are automatically available to all customers using AWS to process their customer data, with no additional action required, through a new supplementary addendum to the AWS GDPR Data Processing Addendum.

Our strengthened contractual commitments include:

  • Challenging law enforcement requests: We will challenge law enforcement requests for customer data from governmental bodies, whether inside or outside the EEA, where the request conflicts with EU law, is overbroad, or where we otherwise have any appropriate grounds to do so.
  • Disclosing the minimum amount necessary: We also commit that if, despite our challenges, we are ever compelled by a valid and binding legal request to disclose customer data, we will disclose only the minimum amount of customer data necessary to satisfy the request.

These strengthened commitments to our customers build on our long track record of challenging law enforcement requests. AWS rigorously limits – or rejects outright – law enforcement requests for data coming from any country, including the United States, where they are overly broad or we have any appropriate grounds to do so.

These commitments further demonstrate AWS’s dedication to securing our customers’ data: it is AWS’s highest priority. We implement rigorous contractual, technical, and organizational measures to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer data regardless of which AWS Region a customer selects. Customers have complete control over their data through powerful AWS services and tools that allow them to determine where data will be stored, how it is secured, and who has access.

For example, customers using our latest generation of EC2 instances automatically gain the protection of the AWS Nitro System. Using purpose-built hardware, firmware, and software, AWS Nitro provides unique and industry-leading security and isolation by offloading the virtualization of storage, security, and networking resources to dedicated hardware and software. This enhances security by minimizing the attack surface and prohibiting administrative access while improving performance. Nitro was designed to operate in the most hostile network we could imagine, building in encryption, secure boot, a hardware-based root of trust, a decreased Trusted Computing Base (TCB) and restrictions on operator access. The newly announced AWS Nitro Enclaves feature enables customers to create isolated compute environments with cryptographic controls to assure the integrity of code that is processing highly sensitive data.

AWS encrypts all data in transit, including secure and private connectivity between EC2 instances of all types. Customers can rely on our industry leading encryption features and take advantage of AWS Key Management Services to control and manage their own keys within FIPS-140-2 certified hardware security modules. Regardless of whether data is encrypted or unencrypted, we will always work vigilantly to protect data from any unauthorized access. Find out more about our approach to data privacy.

AWS is constantly working to ensure that our customers can enjoy the benefits of AWS everywhere they operate. We will continue to update our practices to meet the evolving needs and expectations of customers and regulators, and fully comply with all applicable laws in every country in which we operate. With these changes, AWS continues our customer obsession by offering tooling, capabilities, and contractual rights that nobody else does.

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Author

Steve Schmidt

Steve is Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for AWS. His duties include leading product design, management, and engineering development efforts focused on bringing the competitive, economic, and security benefits of cloud computing to business and government customers. Prior to AWS, he had an extensive career at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he served as a senior executive and section chief. He currently holds 11 patents in the field of cloud security architecture. Follow Steve on Twitter.