Monday, April 23, 2012

Regulations and Security of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is considered to be the future of the internet according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) report in 2012. Cloud computing allows information accessed from smart phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and smart phones to be stored on external servers that may be accessed without borders at anytime. Virtualization and distribution are important key components in the public, private, and hybrid clouds.

For those who do not understand 'the cloud' concept. Here is a short video from an Australian IT Solution News source on the CLOUD 101.

Clouds can be very complex, however businesses use cloud computing for web based services like Email, social networking, video sharing, storage space, and the availability to back-up data off site. 

In 2008, the Economist reported that cloud computing "will allow digital technology to penetrate every nook and cranny of the economy and of society, creating some tricky political problems along the way." Regulation of cloud computing and security has become some of these problems.

Germany currently wants their businesses, large and small, to enter into the cloud for online storage specially a German-made cloud. Currently only 12% of business in Germany have cloud storage out of the 3.6 million businesses. Germany is ranked number three of the top 10 countries in world that are advanced in cloud computing according to the EU Observer, the United States follows Germany at number four. Germany's potential for expansion in this industry is exponential.

Another issue Germany is combating is the locality of cloud storage. The United States has tried to customize a US-made cloud produced specific for European countries. However, if German businesses invest in the foreign clouds they are less secure, limiting their data and personal freedom. According to Deutsche Telekom, Germany is working on "a cloud computer model for the German market and in the German Language" as well as creating a European Cloud that will secure information from secret services hacking into information which is problematic with US-made clouds with the Patriot Act currently active.

After the World Economic Forum in January, a proposal for a EU Cloud Strategy is projected to be introduced in mid-2012 for establishing common procedures in the EU. During this initiative Europe will deal with "standardizing the portability of information and the protection and conservation of data," from the Business Software Alliance Report (BSA). Europe accounts for half of the top ten ranked countries.

According to BSA global computing scorecard they believe that their should be a global cloud, that will increase the "harmonization" between all countries and their ability to coordinate international policies and information sharing. A true global cloud would allow ease in transferring and accessing data and software anywhere in the world. This report also states that "all countries, regardless of their level of economic development, could benefit from coordinated policy responses for the government and the public to fully benefit from the cloud."

Other issues with cloud computing globally are there needs to be "strong laws to protect privacy are important to give users confidence" as well as strict security measures. However, implementing censorship could halt the development of a global cloud which would be poor for the advancement of availability of information sharing like China currently has in their limitations of Internet usage. For information to freely be accessed the topics of, national or regional laws are being discussed.

With Germany wanting to "put a wall around the country to limit the provision of cloud services to companies that are solely located in Germany" can put a dent in the availability of the world's data. Restrictive barriers only create obstacles and limit the evolution of cloud computing.

In todays world the information and technology industry is growing and the dependance of easy fast access is increasing. The Economist portrays the consumer-industrial complex has encouraged businesses and organizations to embrace the cloud which always an increase cost savings. Cutting costs in information storage can ultimately affect the national economic stability.

Resource utilization can be directly related to cost. The growth of the cloud computing industry is on the rise. Worldwide, this year businesses have spent 28.2 billion USD on the cloud services which is up from 21.5 billion USD last year and is projected by 2014 to nearly double at 57.4 billion USD.

What implications does a European cloud have on the US cloud industries? How would international policies affect the competition between the soon to be competing markets?


X said...

Very interesting!

Courtney Johnson said...

After doing my most recent blog on internet privacy, this stuff about the cloud seems really relevant.

I think the idea of a global cloud is really cool but also potentially dangerous to our privacy rights and maybe our access to the internet.

As my last post explains, there are very minimal laws in the US which protect what we say, who we say it to, and what we do on the internet. Germany, on the other hand, has many more laws that protect this private information.

Like Zoe points out, a global cloud would have to have the same privacy laws and mechanisms to enforce them in every country.

US companies are going to prefer clouds with US limits because the access to information is crucial for many of these companies. Since the US and its companies are usually so influential, I fear that they are going to get what they want and scale back the privacy rights Germans and other EU nations have fought for. The US should be looking towards the EU for internet policies, not the other way around.

Or, on the other side, maybe the access to so much information across the globe would freak out the US government and cause there to be a surge of internet restrictive legislation. Think about how much more difficult it would be to influence popular opinion (on lets say a war) if the population could get immediate access to people and information from that country.

On one hand, I can see how this global cloud idea could expand the amount of information in the world... but too much private information.
On the other hand, I can see the US government being threatened by this access to information and begin to restrict us.

But on the other, other hand, this would be really cool.

Anonymous said...

"Cloud computing allows information accessed from smart phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and smart phones..."

Yes, but what about smart phones?

Christian Vette (ASL) said...

The whole concept of jurisdiction based exclusively on the residing area of a company reminds me of people having trouble changing planes within transit zone on US territory when they are wanted because of legal troubles. The internet penetrates state borders and local laws. When it comes to the protection and privacy of your personal data, you should think of the principle "a chain breaks at its weakest link." For example, European users of Facebook have to check with the Irish Data Protection Commission should Facebook make it hard for you to flex your right to access data Facebook has stored on you. Of course, if you subscribed within the U.S. or Canada, the Irish Data Protection Commission cannot help you with possible privacy quarrels. So it is really difficult to regulate something as supranational and complex the internet.