Every conference I attend has a "Legal Issues" track and cloud computing is no exception. I work with lawyers daily, and they're an invaluable part of business, but just like egomaniacal CEOs or system administrators with God complexes, lawyers need to be checked every now and then.
On the cloud computing front, we're starting to see some of the same attitudes from the legal community that we saw during the early days of open source -- fear, uncertainty, doubt, and lawsuits. These are the same "the sky is falling!" professionals who look to profit from every new technology by scaremongering. Maybe I spoke too soon when I said worshipping cloud computing like the next magic bullet would destroy it. Maybe an overzealous legal community will take all the fun out of it for the rest of us first.
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Why am I hatin'? Recently I've been getting hit hard by law firms looking for coverage in InfoWorld and it's getting me down. I'll share a recent e-mail with you to show you what I mean. We'll leave the names out since I don't want to single anyone out (especially a lawyer, right?). I'll just call this pitcher Captain Obvious. To paraphrase the Cap'n: As cloud computing grows, and more people start using it, there are several business and legal issues that need to be addressed. Uh ... duh? Here are the verbatim bullet points from the e-mail, one by one, so you can decide for yourself:
"Data protection -- what specific technical safeguards have been put in place to ensure adequate protection against hacking and fraud?"
You don't say. Data protection issues are omnipresent on the Internet. But with your average Joe gettign cozy with apps like Twitter, that allows various other applications "pass though" your passwords and "sift" through your data, what's the future of data protection? Or even privacy for that matter? The Internet generation has arrived and is spawning, and they have little grasp of data protection -- they share everything. Data protection is more of a technical issue than a legal issue anyway, isn't it?
Side question: Should the legal component of data protection come on the front end or the back end? I'm not sure, so I'm throwing the question out there.
"Privacy -- are the records and identities of customers and users adequately protected against access by third parties?"