European data security and cloud computing

Does your off-site data centre have to be within commuting distance? Perhaps not. Should it at least be in the same country? According to Megan Richards, a European Commission director and acting deputy director general of Information Society and Media, “it shouldn’t matter where data is held as long as our [EC] rules apply”.

Since 1995 there has been a directive, rather than a piece of legislature, for EU countries regarding off-site data storage. Currently, individual states can implement the directive as and how they wish, making off-shore data storage very risky for any company with sensitive data.

The proposed reforms, in motion since January of this year, aim to bring all 27 EU member states up to the same speed by binding them under a common law. Thus, in theory, once all members adopt the law, a company based in the UK would have as much confidence that their data would be as securely protected in Romania as it would be in the UK.

Richards’ comments came at this week’s Cloud Computing World Forum (CCWF2012) in London and were made in relation to the importance of cloud computing to the five biggest European economies between now and 2020 (€700 bn and 5 million new jobs of importance to give a rough estimate).

Richards spoke of improving data security as part of progressing cloud computing throughout Europe. However, on top of data security improving, Europe’s broadband needs to be of a consistently high quality, something that isn’t currently so. If internet speeds improve, cloud computing promises to be a tool that all of Europe can utilise.

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