One of the biggest concerns regarding Cloud Computing is about the privacy of data on third party servers. Along with data thefts that could happen due to bad security policies of the vendors, there is always a threat from overzealous governments trying to use their authority to take anyone’s data out from the third party providers. Even though it is not an issue with cloud providers per se, it is still an important problem for both cloud vendors and users alike. Incidents like FBI seizing all servers in a rack at a datacenter in Texas or Indian government elbowing RIM to give them access to users’ data only makes these concerns even more important.
Almost two years back I wrote a post about the privacy issues surrounding the data on the cloud and asked the cloud vendors to proactively press their governments on data privacy and, if possible, force their respective governments to take up the issue at a global level.
No government is going to take the initiatives on such issues and it is very important for the Cloud Vendors to lobby their governments to talk to other governments at a global level and evolve consensus on these issues. Unless it is done, we cannot have a true Cloud Computing ecosystem. It is the responsibility of the cloud vendors to take the necessary actions for evolving global standards on the important issues related to Cloud Computing.
In July of this year, cloud vendors in Europe lobbied the EU block to have uniform regulations all around the EU. A single set of regulations in EU is very much needed to avoid regulatory confusions in the minds of both vendors and users.
Almost all of the big cloud providers are facing difficulty in the European market due to the diverse regulatory requirements by different countries. Such requirements adversely affect various players and they are now swinging into action to streamline the requirements.
Finally, the cloud players in US have woken up to the needs of their customers and, according to Infoworld, they are lobbying a congressional committee to offer enhanced data privacy protection for the data stored on the clouds.
Executives from top cloud vendors Microsoft, Google, Amazon.com, Salesforce.com and Rackspace Thursday urged a congressional committee to support their goal of giving data stored in cloud computing systems the same legal protections as information stored on one’s personal computer.
The counsels for these cloud providers took steps to highlight the problems with the existing laws for the data stored on the cloud. They are clearly highlighting the importance of offering the data stored on the clouds, the same levels of protection that currently exists for data stored in personal desktop computers. Since US Senate is also seriously considering this issue, we can hope that there is some action in 2011 on this issue.
Update: Just after I publish this post, I came across a news on NewYork Times that Federal government in US is trying to push a bill that will make wiretapping easier. Even though it is not directly related to my post above, it does raise the issue of balancing national security concerns with user privacy. This once again clearly highlights the need for some serious efforts on the side of cloud providers to work with the government and get good protection for privacy of users data.
Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
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- Cloud vendors seek better legal protections for online data (infoworld.com)
- Gartner releases cloud computing ‘rights and responsibilities’ (enterpriseirregulars.com)
- Cloud Vendors Plead For Uniform Regulations In Europe (cloudave.com)
- The Legal Issues Around Cloud Computing (labnol.org)