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Planet-wide cloud dream burst by nations' laws - BSA

Report huffs at privacy safeguards and trade rules

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A US software industry report has warned that certain countries are threatening the future of cloud computing with regulations and policies that stifle the fluffy atmosphere.

The Business Software Alliance published a Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, which noted that countries including India, China and Brazil would need "significant legal and regulatory reforms" before they could join a global cloud.

But the group also pointed out that rules and regulations on the cards for regions such as the European Union could undermine how well countries there are doing so far.

The BSA, which counts Microsoft and other tech giants among its members, said that Brazil finished at the bottom of the 24 countries assessed because of its policies on free trade, security, data privacy and cybercrime.

India was sixth last in the study, with Indonesia, China, Thailand and Vietnam filling out the bottom six. Most of the countries at the bottom of the scorecard were the ones where the technology sector was expected to grow dramatically in the next few years.

"Consider China, for example," the report said. "According to the research firm IDC, the size of China’s ICT sector is expected to nearly double between 2010 and 2015, going from $221 billion to $389 billion.

"International companies, however, confront several obstacles to growth in China, including extensive regulation of internet content and the continued promotion of policies that discriminate against foreign technology companies."

The BSA put together the report because it wants to try to get technology firms and governments together to make sure the cloud can cover the whole world efficiently with smooth-flowing data across borders.

“The true benefits of cloud computing come with scale,” BSA head honcho Robert Holleyman said in a canned statement on the report.

“In a global economy, you should be able to get the technology you need for personal or business use from cloud providers located anywhere in the world. But that requires laws and regulations that let data flow easily across borders.

"Right now, too many countries have too many different rules standing in the way of the kind of trade in digital services we really need.”

Japan came out top of the league because of its privacy protections didn't get in the way of doing business, it has good criminal and intellectual property protection and it has developed international technology standards.

However, countries in the EU near the top ten of the list - Germany, the UK and France - are in danger of losing their high billing if the proposed European Data Protection Regulation comes in, "which has the potential to undermine its benefits with new, overly prescriptive rules".

Holleyman said that the BSA doesn't need every country's laws to be identical, but they did need to be compatible enough to work together in the cloud - which is still a pretty tall order. To help governments get to the point of fluffy cooperation, the BSA issued a seven-point blueprint for policitians to consider, which seemed to include a lot of stuff that governments are already working on or struggling with.

Perhaps advising countries to try to "battle cybercrime with meaningful deterrence" and "protect users' privacy while enabling the free flow of data and commerce" isn't all that helpful. ®

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