November 08, 2012, 2:39 PM — ORLANDO -- Any enterprise looking to use cloud computing services will also be digging into what laws and regulations might hold in terms of security and privacy of data stored in the cloud. At the Cloud Security Alliance Congress in Orlando this week, discussion centered on two important regulatory frameworks now being put in place in Europe and the U.S.
The European Union, with its more than two dozen countries, has had a patchwork of data-privacy laws that each country created to adhere to the general directive set by the EU many years ago. But now there's a slow but steady march toward approving a single data-privacy regulation scheme for EU members.
These proposed rules published by the EU earlier this year may not become law until 2016 or later as they involve approval by the European Parliament, said Margaret Eisenhauer, an Atlanta-based attorney with expertise in data-privacy law.
Europe, especially countries such as Germany, already takes a stricter approach to data protection than the U.S., with databases holding individual's personal information having to be registered with government authorities, and rules on where exactly data can be transmitted. "European law is based on the protection of privacy as a fundamental human right," Eisenhauer said.
The benefit of the proposed EU regulation is that EU countries will, in theory, present a uniform approach instead of a patchwork of rules. The so-called "Article 29 Working Party Opinion" of proposed law specially addresses use of cloud computing, and it presents cloud providers and users with a long list of security-control requirements.
In addition, cloud providers must offer "transparency" about their operations something some are reluctant to do today, Eisenhauer said.
The proposed regulations also allude to how cloud-based computing contracts should be established. Among many requirements, "you have to state where the data will be processed," Eisenhauer said, plus where it will be accessed from. Customers have the right to "visit their data," she said, which means providers must be able to show the customer the physical and logical storage of it.