PRISM – A Fireball To The Advancing Public Cloud?
It’s all over the news. Blogs are filled with discussions, analysis – both critical and realistic but what’s clear is that no one is trying to justify it. The big question however, remains to be asked: What impact will PRISM has on the rapid advancement and penetration of public Cloud in our lives? Before we attempt to look at some of the possible ways the industry, specifically public Cloud service providers may choose to adopt, let’s briefly look at what PRISM really is.
It all started with Washington Post publishing a report on a secret Government (NSA?) program to fetch information on your communications, transactions and data directly from the datacenters of the big internet companies. There have been rumors floating around before WP published the report but the report added the needed fuel to the fire.
Among the companies which were reported to have granted unrestricted access to the Government bots to scoop data right from their servers were the big giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple. The post revealed that the documents it received indicated grant of “voluntary” access by these and 6 other big internet companies to query data. This would mean unrestricted access to terabytes, in fact petabytes of image, voice, textual and metadata formats of your personal data. The US Government was quick to respond to the report and clarify the even though PRISM does exist in some form, it does not spy on Americans, only foreigners and that all access to the data is approved and court supervised. You could imagine the importance of this clarification by the fact that Obama himself clarified this while he was in the middle of an important series of meetings with the new Chinese premier.
Tech giants were quick in rectifying and the executives themselves with Facebook’s Mark denying that he knew about PRISM and also clearly stating that no such access has been granted to any Government agency and that Facebook continues to uphold the privacy of its users.
In the backdrop of this huge privacy bubble, what would be its impact on the public cloud service providers? A strong statement coming from the top execs of the companies which were named in the report was the right decision and it did help but in the long run when there is already a heated debate on the true privacy and protection of personal data, which hundreds of millions of us, in fact billions, share through services hosted on the public cloud. Data residency on the cloud is still something which is evolving, with big enterprises showing growing interest for cloud security solutions that offer data encryption in-house before sending it off to the cloud. This new development will definitely add more energy into this direction.
By Salam UI Haq
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