The cloud privacy wars are coming

With the recent NSA blowback in Europe, we will likely see the privacy battles heat up in the United States as well

Germany's interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich -- the country's top security official -- cautioned privacy-conscious residents and organizations to steer clear of U.S.-based service companies, according to the Associated Press. As InfoWorld's Ted Samson has reported, "Friedrich is by no means the first E.U. politician to issue this type of warning, and as details continue to emerge about the U.S. government's widespread surveillance programs, such warnings are certain to garner greater attention."

The blowback in Europe around NSA surveillance is no surprise. Privacy has always been a huge issue in Europe, as demonstrated by confrontations with Google, among others.

[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman on how users might win the privacy wars. | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

However, the real privacy wars in the cloud have yet to be fought, both in the United States and in Europe. This battle will likely occur in courtrooms and in government regulatory agencies.

The reality is that people who working with cloud-based platforms won't stop using those platforms -- but they will get much better at security and privacy. With such improvements in security and privacy, law enforcement and government agencies won't have ready access to some data. That means legal battles will occur in many countries, with the use of remote data hosting services, such as cloud services, in the middle of those frays.

One result of businesses taking steps to ensure that their data won't be monitored by government agencies will be wider use of both encryption and physical restrictions on access. However, if the government wants to see the data and obtains a court order (sometimes in secret), it will want access to that data. To get that encrypted or restricted-access data in the cloud, the government will need an additional court order to gain access. That's when lawsuits will be filed and all hell breaks loose.

Some people believe these issues can be avoided by not using public cloud providers. But that's naive. If the government wants your data and if there is cause to support their concerns to a judge, it will come after that date whether it's in your closet or a cloud. Welcome to the new world order.

This article, "The cloud privacy wars are coming," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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