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The Cloud – When Breaking Up Is Easy to Do

by Andrew White  |  November 12, 2015  |  Comments Off on The Cloud – When Breaking Up Is Easy to Do

A story, reported in both US print editions of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, suggests that Microsoft is going to assuage the recent European ruling that scrapped safe harbour.  Microsoft is hoping that by offering to store European data on servers in Germany, it can calm nervous customers that fear storing that same data in servers in the US might get snooped by US authorities.

– FT: Microsoft’s Move Raises Risks of a Fractured Web

– WSJ: Microsoft Nods to EU’s Data-Protection Fears

The article in the FT suggests the move is a marketing ploy by Microsoft and it’s too soon to tell if others will follow.  I think it’s a smart move and it’s just a matter of time before others replicate the move. It’s good tactics.  But it’s bad strategy.  The very promise of a homogenous seamless Internet powering a open, boundaryless cloud is giving way to regional clouds.

At fault is the inconsistency between legacy and outdated laws designed for an analogue world coming up against the dynamism and flexibility of the digital.  While the legal intentions might be worthwhile, like protecting privacy, it’s the implementation that is causing the issue.  Countries do differ in their cultural beliefs as to what is private, what security means, and so on.  So we should welcome differences there and expect a broad narrative.  But when it comes to execution, the methods that could be used should support such differences; but legal regulations, often set up at national and regional levels independently (at most), and inconsistently (a worse) can’t keep up with the technical possibilities for protecting privacy or getting around it.

Let’s face it – Microsoft is moving first here to attract (or preserve) business. But it is acquiescing to the outdated methods used by a dated legal system; they may still fight cases for access etc. but this move means that the IT industry is not really leading the fight.  I guess in some ways this requires lobbying, that other nasty side of politics.  We will be stuck with this complication for a time, perhaps until today’s college kids sit atop the legal system in another 20-30 years and the oldies have given way.  I would expect more silos and islands to form and the cloud to splinter into information fiefdoms.  And technology to work around them.



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Category: cloud-computing  european-union  law  microsoft  privacy  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

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