Microsoft calls for regulations over cloud computing
Microsoft plans to call Wednesday for greater government involvement in the largely unregulated and fast-growing cloud computing industry. The move, expected to come in a Washington speech by a top company executive, seeks to establish the software giant as a major voice on cloud computing, a burgeoning field where big dollars are at stake as businesses race to transfer information to the Web.
Microsoft, along with Google, is making a strong push into cloud computing, which allows firms to store large amounts of data on remote servers that are maintained by third parties and accessible via the Internet. But the technology platform, like many aspects of the Web, has not yet been regulated in the way that, for example, broadcasters and other telecom sectors have been.
Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith plans to argue in his speech Wednesday at the Brookings Institution that without clear rules for privacy and security in cloud computing, faith in the nascent, Web-based technology could be hampered.
“Congress needs to act,” Smith said in an interview. “Before the promise of cloud computing can fully be realized, we must address users’ concerns that moving data to the cloud might render it less secure and less private.”
Specifically, Smith will call for an update of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, “because of uncertainty regarding the scope of the Fourth Amendment protections for online communications.” He said that an updated version of that law should clearly apply those protections to the Web. For example, the U.S. government and governments around the world can ask data center operators for information that they hold on behalf of customers.
“We see a lack of clarity in law and we are concerned about what that privacy means for consumer privacy,” Smith said.
The company also plans to call for stronger protections against cyber attacks by reforming the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to make it easier to impose felony penalties on those attackers and allow cloud providers to go after hackers on behalf of their customers.
Leslie Harris, chief executive of the public interest group Center for Democracy & Technology, said that the Obama administration has paid greater attention to cloud computing and notes that the federal government is considering using the platform for some of its agencies.
“At the end of the day we have a global Internet and we are only starting to talk about the issues that are coming out of it,” Harris said. The CDT has worked with Microsoft on its call for policy reforms.
January 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Microsoft , cloud
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