Nº 10 2012 > Global Symposium for Regulators | Special report

Demystifying regulation in the cloud: opportunities and challenges for cloud computing

Demystifying regulation in the cloud: opportunities and challenges for cloud computing

The session on regulation in the cloud, moderated by Marianne Treschow, Representative of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, covered the social and economic benefits of cloud computing and its impact on small-and medium-sized enterprises, public entities and end users. Participants discussed how new players — such as social media, over-the-top (OTT) content and application providers — are changing market dynamics through cloud services. They also looked at the need for regulation, recognizing that rules should not stifle innovation.

Dr Ian Walden, Professor of Information and Communications Law and Head of the Institute of Computer and Communications Law, Queen Mary, University of London, and author of the GSR discussion paper on “Demystifying regulation in the cloud: opportunities and challenges for cloud computing”, described how cloud computing provides flexible, location-independent access to computing resources that are made available to the user as and when needed — in other words, on demand.

Should cloud computing be regulated? The answer depends on several factors. Much of the cloud computing market may fall outside telecommunication law, but governments and regulators could facilitate its uptake by removing the perceived barriers. The major concern remains the security of the metadata generated by use of cloud services. Equally crucial are questions of privacy, data retention or deletion, quality standards, and PATRIOT Act problems.

Leslie Martinkovics, Director of International Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Verizon Communications Inc., a cloud service provider, said that the deployment of broadband is essential to increasing cloud availability. Data portability and international standards should have time to mature before regulations are imposed on clouds.

Sanjaya Karunasena, Chief Technology Officer of Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Authority, said that in his country some organizations have good information technology infrastructure, while others do not even have computers. An advantage of cloud computing technology is that it offers everyone the same infrastructure, with reliable and secure services at affordable prices.

Speakers stressed the importance of striking a balance between regulation and innovation, the key being flexibility. Ms Treschow said that the massive growth of data makes cloud technology a must, but emphasized that quality control and security are needed for both content and the transport of information.



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