Regulation of Cloud Computing Prompts Several Legislative Debates

April 23, 2013

Cloud computing has brought tremendous gains in productivity and flexibility to the IT industry, but there are many questions still to be answered about its future. While corporations reap the benefits of increased cloud use, lawmakers continue to debate how best to regulate the cloud and keep it from being abused.

This is true worldwide – legislatures across North America, Europe and Asia are debating how to keep cloud data safe and regulate its use fairly. Jim Reavis, co-founder of the Cloud Security Alliance, recently wrote an op-ed for The Guardian in which he objected to some measures being discussed.

"While much of this is well meaning and quite good, the great challenge is in understanding the international interdependencies that have emerged within this global compute utility, and defining strategies and policies that balance the interests of individuals, business and law enforcement," Reavis wrote. "Compounding this challenge is a great acceleration in innovation, which in effect is asking us to govern an entity that is highly dynamic."

There are many issues being discussed worldwide regarding cloud data. Here's a glimpse at the debate topics on the table.

The most contentious issue is how to keep companies' cloud data private. When incidents of data breach arise, governments tend to act on their first instinct, which is to intrude into firms' cloud data and look for answers – but according to Engineering and Technology magazine, many businesses' IT officials insist on keeping their data private.

"IT managers do not want governments snooping around in their corporate data," Lieberman Software CEO Philip Lieberman told the magazine.

Data sovereignty
According to The Guardian, sovereignty of cloud data is another issue – in other words, what nation has the right to regulate cloud storage? If a company is based in the United States but its jobs are outsourced to India and its data is kept on a server in Japan, then whose jurisdiction is that? There are no easy answers, and governments worldwide are debating the sovereignty issue.

Data protection
Reavis cites protection of data as another contentious topic. Companies are in control of a lot of their customers' personal information, including financial data. Is it their responsibility to protect that info, or should customers accept that onus for themselves – caveat emptor?

The cloud has brought convenience to users' lives worldwide, but it has also brought questions about how to manage it. Governments around the world have several dilemmas on their hands.