Cloud computing under scrutiny in the EU?

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda, participated in the first meeting of the Steering Board of the European Cloud Partnership (ECP). The board, chaired by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, met to kick-off a process where public authorities and industry work together to help building the EU Digital Single Market for cloud computing pursuant to the European Cloud Computing Strategy.

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda on the right, participated in the first meeting of the Steering Board of the European Cloud Partnership (ECP). The board, chaired by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia, met to kick-off a process where public authorities and industry work together to help building the EU Digital Single Market for cloud computing pursuant to the European Cloud Computing Strategy.

Cloud computing seems to function in the same way for the ICT world, as the ocean-going shipping for the real economy, it is highly efficient, can be lucrative and dangerous, demands investments in skills, R&D and infrastructure, depends to a rather limited extend on the cooperation between the public and the private sector and suffer of the same “free rider” problems. Web piracy reminds sea buccaneers.For millennia seafaring has being uniting the material world, increasing its overall mental and material efficiency. Cloud computing is playing exactly the same role in the ICT universe. Data are being transferred and exchanged over cloud computing in the ITC sector, as material goods in the real economy. The question is however if the ICT universe runs more dangers than seafaring, to be controlled by government or private interests, partially or wholesale.As Digital Europe, representing the digital technology industry in Europe, puts it “to capture all the advantages of cloud computing, a Digital Single Market (in the EU) and barrier free global communications more generally is becoming more and more important”. Telecommunications however are always the target of various interest groups, ranging from government agencies to every poorly trained technician. Of course it is never possible for all telecommunications to be totally controlled not even by the mightiest government.

The problem is however that cloud computing in order to be able to offer its full potential to end-users needs a seamless telecommunications environment. Whatever has to do with telecommunications though is a highly sensitive matter and arise the interest of the greater public. In this respect the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was rejected by the European Parliament and the US, on the grounds that even remotely was endangering the civil right of communication and potentially opening the way to government officials to spy over citizens. Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in Europe against ACTA. Yet it is not certain if cloud computing was served or not by EU’s rejection of ACTA. In any case the whole ACTA affair gave a distinct taste, of the difficulties to be encountered in the legislative field, while trying create a world-wide safe environment for cloud computing.

According to experts, the ACTA was rejected by the European Parliament, because the text submitted to lawmakers by the Commission failed to make a strong distinction between, “web users who illegally downloaded material for their own use and those who want to make a living out of it”. In any case cloud computing in Europe suffered a strong blow, with the EU being locked out by choice, from the global community of intellectual property protection.
The EU Commission has referred ACTA to the European Court of Justice, with the query if it breaches the freedom of speech. The decision is expected early in 2013.

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