Cloud and conflicting privacy laws

One of the biggest dilemmas with cloud services is that in theory it shouldn’t matter where your data is stored in the public cloud, just that it is secured appropriately, and only you get appropriate access and nobody else gets inappropriate access 😉

But it’s much more complicated. Every country has its own laws about the transparency of data stored and accessibility from nosing government authorities. The real problems occur when there is a conflict of privacy laws between different countries. So you have personal data stored in a Google public cloud, your data could be stored physically anywhere in the world. And the fact that Google is a US company means requirement to comply with US law (e.g. USA Patriot Act) for the organisation worldwide, not forgetting the regional laws where the data is physically stored. This conflicts with EU privacy law whereby the rights of the data subject are preserved.

Google have been quoted as follows “As a law abiding company, we comply with valid legal process, and that – as for any US based company – means the data stored outside of the U.S. may be subject to lawful access by the U.S. government.” Taken from Softpedia.

This could be an interesting time for organisations to set-up clouds but only in a single country in an organisation that is registered in the hosting country. Otherwise, can you really trust the data-holding authority to protect your rights as an EU citizen for example? I know I can’t!

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