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Do we need a "Treaty of the Cloud?"

Could the lack of uniformity of national laws across borders hinder long-term savings associated with cloud computing?

Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, thinks so.

If something is not done to establish cross-border rules for cloud computing, a “Tower of Babel” might emerge that could hamper innovation and organizations’ ability to garner greater economics of sale from this technology, West said on April 7 at an event entitled “The Economics Gains of Cloud Computing.”

The event was held at Brookings Institution headquarters in Washington, D.C. and featured a keynote address by Vivek Kundra, the federal chief information officer.

Many countries have different rules and laws for cloud computing, privacy, data storage, security processes and personnel training, said West, who also released a new report, “Saving Money Through Cloud Computing,” at the event.

“What is happening internationally is each country is worrying about cloud computing and is essentially starting to impose different standards on what cloud computing means in their particular area,” he said.

So it is possible to wind up with five, 10 or maybe even 100 or more standards. A situation like that could undermine the principal of the cloud and the possible cost-savings associated with it, West said.

“So legally that whole area is up in the air. Some people suggested that just as we had a Treaty of the Sea and various other international treaties that we need an International Treaty of the Cloud,” he said.

Such a treaty “would work out some of these international legal issues and ensure that countries have at least some common sense of what the standards should be,” he said. “So you don’t have one cloud for Switzerland and another for Germany and [one for] the United States,”

David Wyld, professor of management at Southeastern Louisiana and a panel member at the event, echoed those sentiments.

“As we work across borders it will be important to have standardization of legal requirements so that there is not this splintering of the cloud marketplace,” he said.


Posted by Rutrell Yasin on Apr 08, 2010 at 7:24 PM

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