Cloud computing may indeed become one of the backbones of our digital future”, stated Vice-President Kroes in a speech on “Cloud computing and data protection“. While discussing the potential opportunity that cloud computing represents, and that “the free movement of personal data within the EU is another way to help to complete the Digital Single Market in Europe”, she emphasized that the type of cloud we need is one with robust data protection. This is not optional; data protection is “a ‘must have’ feature for consumers, individuals and society in general.”
The Digital Single Market is a useful context to examine the policy issues relating to cloud computing, as many of the relevant questions relate to the potential application of different regulations in different countries. With regard to the way that implementation of the EU’s Data Protection Directive differs across member states, Mrs Kroes states that “We need to clarify when this reflects an unavoidable difference of culture and legal tradition, or when it is merely an avoidable obstacle to the rules of the Single Market” — which is exactly what we need to do.
Clarity of rules is a worthy goal, especially for the benefit of small European companies that have a lot to gain from cloud computing. As she asserted, “Having clear and ‘cloud-friendly’ rules can only help ICT companies – and you know that many of them in Europe are SMEs – to know exactly what is allowed and what is not.”
Vice-President Kroes has advanced the dialogue on the subject of cloud computing, and there is good will on all sides to find solutions that will help us all enjoy the benefits and protecting the users. We welcome her announcement for a consultation on cloud computing in 2011.