Ensuring the efficient circulation of information and that the data are adequately protected are among the seven key considerations in the development of cloud computing' services as identified by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) in a study, published on 22 February(1). The study comes just weeks after the European Commission's presentation of its proposed directive on data protection (26 January), and most significantly a few months before the eagerly-awaited publication of the EU's cloud computing strategy'.

The study evaluates policy and legislation in terms of their contribution to the development of cloud computing. Among the 24 countries assessed - which represent a total of 80% of the market for new information and communications technology (ICT) - five EU member states (Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain) are ranked among the ten most advanced countries globally in this regard.

Cloud computing, now considered to be the future of the internet, allows the storing and treatment of information on external servers, which means this information can be accessed in real time from anywhere on the planet - hence the idea of information being stored in the clouds'. Such services mean that individuals, companies and public administrations will no longer need to install and run applications on their computers.

E-mail is one example of a cloud service already in use: people can check their e-mails from any computer anywhere in the world, in real time, without having to download software in order to use the service.

However, cloud computing should not just be approached from a technological angle: this new way of using the internet raises many questions. According to the BSA study, political decision makers should concentrate on seven key areas.

"In recent years, EU member states have made great progress in developing solid policy environments to promote the full potential of cloud computing," said Thomas Boue, BSA's director of government affairs. "However, a healthy national market for cloud computing does not necessarily translate into a market that is attuned to the laws of other countries. It is important to allow data to flow smoothly across borders - within the EU as well as beyond."


The BSA also emphasises the need to guarantee effective data protection whilst allowing the circulation of up-to-date information. Significantly, this implies that obligations for data management officials to record...

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