Feeds

Trust lawyers, not techies, when it comes to the cloud

Minefield of privacy and data laws - so tread carefully

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

CCWF2012 CIOs thinking of shifting to the cloud or kicking off a flagship big data project would be better off talking to their lawyers than their techies before starting to leaf through glossy corporate presentations.

Mark Webber, partner and head of technology at law firm Osborne Clarke, speaking at the Cloud Computing World Forum today, said that while the cloud and big data are the buzzwords du jour, CIOs' plans are still governed by UK and EU data law passed in the mid-1990s. Personal data will be covered by whatever "promises" were made at the time it was collected.

"Sometimes the simplification of technology can complicate the legal analysis and cause more legal problems than with a traditional solution," he said.

"In a few instances, where you can't change a solution, you might have to buy a different one."

Obvious issues were security and location of data, with most companies at least vaguely aware of the implications of moving data outside of the EU.

Less obvious was the fact that the more complex the "stack" – with the client's provider itself outsourcing elements such as database analysis – the more potential there was for breaching EU regulations, and bringing data under other, potentially contradictory data regimes.

Even more obscure, if only because of the inevitable affect of corporate amnesia, was the effect of original promises made to individuals when their data was collected.

This equally applied to big data applications, said Webber, where the corporate urge to mine data just to see what's there can conflict with assurances given to individuals at the time it was collected. A further layer of complexity is added when such mounds of data have been accumulated by successive company mergers and acquisitions over a course of years, all covered by different assurances on privacy.

Webber said the very nature of cloud services meant that customers could sign up, tap in a credit card number and start uploading data without ever contemplating what the corporate lawyers - if any - would say. When a cloud service appears as a £1,000-a-month credit card item, it's entirely possible it might never breach the threshold for being examined by lawyers.

Generally, he said, most hurdles could be overcome with transparency, and he said US vendors were becoming increasingly aware of "best practice" in the UK and Europe.

If there's any comfort for data managers who don't like to bring themselves to spend money on lawyers rather than tech, virtually none of this has actually been tested in court. Webber said most cases involving personal data have focused on data loss and breaches. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.