Posted by: Christian Verstraete | May 7, 2010

The Cloud is Global, the Law is Local

Yesterday I had a real interesting discussion with an electronics company. It was focused on storing and circulating data in the cloud. How can a large global company use the cloud while ensuring it stays within the law and can audit these new approaches for SOX, Basel II and other other compliance.

And frankly, the question does not have an easy answer. Indeed, countries and even states have different laws as far as the protection of data is concerned. Large enterprises need to take those into account when storing data in particular places, and when moving data around. Exporting data from country to country has legal implications.

Most of us, IT professionals, are not lawyers, and so may not have a real good understanding of the implications of what we do in this space. It is easy to identify this or that data centre as the place where we will put the data, but have we looked at the legal aspects. Frankly, most often the answer is no.

InformationLawGroup, a US based website, have published since last September a number of blog entries focused on the legal aspects of using the cloud. A search on their website returned all the cloud computing posts they released. Each of the entries is worth reading as they provide a good insight in the problems that need to be addressed.

Researching for this post, I also found an interesting presentation on the subject, giving more of a European perspective. That one, titled “Legal Aspects of Cloud Computing” can be downloaded from dockstock.

A paper, titled “Controlling data in the Cloud” describes what can be put in place to gain  better control of how the data flows in the cloud.

But the net net is that governments will have to take a hard look at their laws and identify common approaches for the cloud to really take off in enterprises. In the mean time companies should work hand in hand with their lawyers to know what they may and  may not do. Unfortunately, the ideal solution is not out yet.

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