European Data Privacy Restrictions Slow Cloud Computing Spread

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Six Tips for Compliant Cloud Computing

It's complicated, but these tips will help you get your arms around the issues.


Adoption of cloud computing is spreading rapidly in the United States, primarily because it "allows companies to tap enormous computing power...without having to invest in the infrastructure," The New York TImes reports. According to Gartner, global sales of cloud services are expected to reach $102.1 billion by 2012. But Europe is only expected to account for approximately 29 percent of those sales.


Why the slow uptake, even though Europe's economy is larger than the economy in the U.S.? Privacy requirements in Europe prohibit information about European Union residents from being transmitted beyond EU borders, which has slowed considerably the progress of cloud computing in the region. EU member governments are concerned the information will be vulnerable "to aggressive marketers and cyber criminals," the story says.


On some level, the situation reminds me of the arguments the Indian government had against certain BlackBerry services. To prevent a ban of its devices in India, Research in Motion worked with the government to come up with a solution that would protect the nation's security interests and the privacy of BlackBerry users.


Cloud services providers are attempting the same thing in the EU. The New York TImes says Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Google and Oracle are all working on solutions to the perceived problems. For example:

At the HP Labs in Bristol, England, researchers are devising ways to encrypt data before it is sent into a cloud computing center and then decrypt it after it leaves the cloud...Another solution being studied is to give individuals the ability in advance to set the degree of privacy control on each part of their personal information in the cloud by digitally tagging bits of the data.


The companies are lobbying legislators in Europe to loosen the restrictions, but in the meantime, HP researcher Siani Pearson says, the goal is to make sure companies can take advantage of cloud computing benefits within the boundaries currently set by the regulators.