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Brit watchdog spanks Microsoft, Amazon, Apple into promising fairer cloud contracts

Smackdown on random hikes and service tweaks

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have committed to providing cloud storage users with fairer contracts after a crackdown by the UK's Competition Markets Authority (CMA).

The companies are the latest cloud storage providers to improve their terms and conditions following the CMA's review of compliance with consumer law in the sector.

Price hikes and last-minute service tweaks prompted the CMA to open its investigation at the end of 2015. So far the regulator has secured changes to the contract terms from JustCloud, Livedrive, Dixons Carphone, BT, Dropbox, Google and Mozy.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have separately agreed to make changes to their respective terms and conditions.

This includes: adequate notice to customers before significant changes are made to the service; cancellation rights and pro-rata refunds if customers don't want to accept significant changes; and adequate notice before the service is suspended or cancelled.

Andrea Coscelli, acting chief exec of CMA, said: "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."

She said 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.

Cloud storage is used by one-third of British adults in a personal capacity, said the CMA. ®

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