The Dangers of the American Cloud Industry
With all the hype that Cloud Computing is getting, more and more companies and individuals are jumping on the Cloud band wagon and enjoying the benefits. But despite its global reach, the greater majority of Cloud Computing infrastructure and service providers are still American companies. This means that they are subject to U.S. laws and regulations including the latest amendments done to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Many of the world’s business entities as well as individual internet users use some sort of Cloud technology, Cloud storage being the more common service being availed of. This includes Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and other players in this area. But it has now come to light that all data and documents being uploaded to Cloud systems owned by U.S. entities, based in the U.S. or falls under Washington’s jurisdiction can be accessed and analyzed by U.S. security agencies without warrant or prior notice. The amendments for FISA were introduced in 2008 where it quietly slipped by because the world’s data was inherently private at that time so people were not concerned. Those amendments were then renewed in December 2012. FISA gives U.S. agencies free access to any information stored by non-US citizens on US-based companies.
This actually means that the U.S. government has been actively spying and mining foreign data on U.S. Clouds since 2008 and nobody was the wiser. It was only fairly recently that experts have become concerned because more and more data is being uploaded to the Cloud, which remains to be a largely American enterprise. Now countries like the UK and even the EU are looking at alternatives until non-US Cloud service providers step up to the plate, perhaps even build their own “national” Clouds.
At any rate, developments such as this are not good for giants like Amazon and Microsoft who are looking to make as many customers offload data and services on to their cloud. This is not a good development for Cloud Computing as a whole.
By Abdul Salam
He has recently co-authored: Deploying and Managing a Cloud Infrastructure: Real-World Skills for the CompTIA Cloud+ Certification (Wiley).