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Swedes say no to Google Apps for government use

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A division of the Swedish government has prohibited government offices from using Google (s goog) Apps, according to a report Thursday from privacy blogger Simon Davies.

The ruling on the case involving the Swedish city of Salem, dating to a case originally considered in 2011 involving compliance with 1998 legislation, is binding to all municipal bodies and federal agencies, Davies wrote.

The news of clamping down on government employees’ use of document storage, spreadsheets, calendars, collaborative documents, email and other services, the Swedish government’s Data Inspection Board comes as a result of issues surrounding Google’s contract policies, Davies wrote.

Davies wondered if schools might end up becoming disillusioned with cloud applications, too.

It’s fair to view the news as the latest proof point in the resistance to relying on shared infrastructure certain United States companies run because the U.S. government can access data. The revelations on the PRISM program got that ball rolling again in recent days, sparking renewed curiosity about what the European Union will end up doing to protect citizens’ personal data, and this news arguably contributes to the sentiment.

On top of that, the news could heighten further the divide between U.S. cloud and European cloud and shows the need for more infrastructure catering to the needs of smaller populations — say, for the European Union.

7 Responses to “Swedes say no to Google Apps for government use”

  1. The original article by Simon is more than sightly alarmist, and uninformed.

    Google’s offering for schools offers the same degree of data protection they offer corporate customers, and no advertising. The whole point of pushing schools to use the Google Apps for Education offering is that it is a more controlled and isolated environment (and appropriate for school children) than the public Gmail. There is no “datamining for profit” here.

    Schools and teachers should not use public Gmail / Drive/ etc. It may be in fact illegal for students under 13, depending on your jurisdiction. Google Apps for Education is free for accredited educational institutions and does NOT have these constraints.

    As to schools becoming disillusioned with cloud services – that’s utter nonsense. The very report Simon is misusing starts with “A decisive majority of UK schools expect to use cloud services such as email and document collaboration in the near future. They believe such tools offer many educational and social benefits, and will be cheaper and easier to manage than traditional software”

  2. Parvez Halim

    Dropbox is completely insecure, basically just a FTP server with a great interface and Google Drive forces the user to use Google Docs (do you really want to change your entire workforce over to Google Docs).

    What government and enterprise need is file-sharing with security permissions that determines what happens to the documents and has an audit trail. Something like Workshare., which also has EU servers out of reach of the US government.

  3. I Actually Read It

    This ruling has absolutely nothing to do with the US Government and them potentially having access to the data. This is about Google’s contract for the service and the fact that it isn’t sufficient in laying out the protections from PRIVATE parties (namely Google, their subcontractors, and vendors).

  4. The recent PRISM stories have highlighted this in a more mainstream manner but the concern on exporting data outside the EU is not new. Protection laws in the US are just not as robust. Now data protection has become mainstream in the last week or so, it’s going to be interesting to see how this affects cloud usage over the next few years.