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European Union: European Commission Addresses Cloud Computing

(Aug. 1, 2012) On July 20, 2012, the European Commission announced that it will soon publish a communication addressing the issue of cloud computing in a comprehensive manner. The communication deals with three major and interrelated issues in that context: personal data protection and security, copyright, and standardization. (Francesco Guarascio, Brussels to Unveil EU Cloud Computing Strategy, EURACTIV (July 20, 2012).) According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” (PETER MELL & TIMOTHY GRANCE, THE NIST DEFINITION OF CLOUD COMPUTING 2 (Sept. 2011), SP 800-145.)

On the issue of personal data protection, the communication addresses such questions as whether cloud providers should be required to provide a back-up for the files stored on their servers and the what the applicable law should be when the user of a cloud service is a not a citizen of the European Union. (Id.)

In regard to copyright, the Commission opines that copyright protection of documents in the cloud should be based on direct remuneration of rights' holders rather than on the imposition of levies on devices to be used for duplication of copyrighted material. (Id.)

On the issue of standardization, the communication notes, existing practice indicates that cloud service providers prefer to establish their own standards. The communication states that the Commission wishes to put in place incentives for the cloud industry to develop common standards on “security, interoperability, data portability and reversibility.” (Id.)

The Commission expects cooperation from the United States and Japan, in particular, in dealing with a number of issues related to global governance of cloud computing, including “application of the tax law to cloud services,” “international data flows,” and “coordination of data security.” (Id.)