Blog Post

What Laws Should Govern Computing Clouds?

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Google this Friday will host for lobbyists, congressional aides and journalists in the Washington D.C. area a talk about cloud computing at which it will release a new Pew Internet and American Life survey of consumer attitudes toward the cloud. Google has obviously launched these D.C.-area talks as a way to help educate regulators and lawmakers about white spaces, online privacy and other topics near and dear to its interests.

Still, I am curious to hear what the Pew survey says consumers think of the cloud. I would have guessed they don’t think much about it all, unless it’s bringing rain. I’m also curious as to what Google thinks regulators should focus on when it comes to running pools of virtualized servers. Bandwidth improvements and ensuring Network Neutrality are one obvious issue for cloud purveyors, other regulation that should be talked about is how laws and regulations govern the physical location of certain data. Indeed, one interesting side note to Google’s patent for running data centers on the high seas is the lack of jurisdiction in international waters.

On the consumer side, a fair issue to consider is how consumer content stored in such clouds can be used. Witness the kerfuffle over Google’s terms of service regarding Chrome, which tried to claim the right to use  any content uploaded or displayed via the browser. But when storing files and data in a cloud, ownership and usage rights are essential, as are clear policies that lay out how such content might be accessed, tracked and monitored. Another issue is whether or not such data could ever truly be deleted from clouds, as former Facebook users had discovered. Not all of these issues require regulation, but it’s worth educating lawmakers about them in advance of more services being offered via the cloud.

image courtesy of Google

7 Responses to “What Laws Should Govern Computing Clouds?”

  1. The US could certainly take a closer look how privacy of data is governed by law in Europe. The principles of EU Directive 95/46/EC should also be applied to laws protecting data of organizations who trust a cloud service vendor to provide a reliable and economical service. And last but not least: copying data without the consent or authorization of the owner should become a criminal offense.

  2. There is a big constitutional level problem lurking about whether storing your data in the cloud means you give the data to the cloud provider (ala phone records), or continue to own the data but “rent” an extension of your own property to house it (ala an apartment or storage locker). The core issue here is do you retain your rights with regards to search and seizure, or do you give your cloud vendor and the federal government complete rights to protect your data (or not) as they see fit.

    I hope Google addresses this. Otherwise, enterprises will find themselves driven to build private clouds, within their own four walls, where there are few questions about search and seizure rights, not to mention privacy rights in general. Read my post for more details.

  3. anonymous

    Anyone can file a patent and with some luck get it too.

    Quick file a patent on setting up a data center in Space for disaster recovery :-)

    I think Google has lost some of its boyish charm. 10-year old company is already behaving like an hormone going astray – erratic teenager.
    – Names a browser on what till yesterday meant wheels on a Car – Chrome
    – dreams of data center rigs (instead of oil rigs) – mining for data instead of oil
    – Calls floating data center part of cloud.

    Smoke on Water ‘eh