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ACMA mulls cloud regulation

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Dropping into the cloud privacy and security debate without even the slightest clang of irony, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has listed security, privacy and access to data as issues that might need regulation in the Australian environment.

It's discussion paper, The cloud – services, computing and digital data, is soliciting comment on what regulatory role it might usefully assume.

The discussion paper notes that startups might be unaware even of current regulation, but its main concern is to try and get a handle on whether new regulations are required to cope with the rapid shift to the cloud.

With the rise of the smartphone, the ACMA says, “71 percent of Australians are using a cloud service, whether they know it or not”.

Given the flurry of exposure Internet privacy has received in the wake of the PRISM whistleblower revelations in the last week, it's interesting to note that data sovereignty is one of the issues the ACMA wants to examine, with the regulator noting that 35 percent of Australians would withhold personal information from a site not based in Australia.

While it states that many major providers – including IBM, Rackspace, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Amazon – have moved to locate their servers in Australia, many users probably don't know where their data is hosted.

The paper also canvasses the idea that data portability could come under the regulatory spotlight, with the ACMA stating that breaking down lock-in is a plus for competition. ®

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