But the concerns over the security of data stored in servers located in Europe has been the subject of considerable discussion among officials in EU member states, and can be traced at least in part to early efforts at a sort of digital protectionism in the form of state efforts to promote European cloud companies over their U.S.-based competitors. And European firms are all too happy to call attention to the potential insecurities of data stored with American providers stemming from U.S. laws.
In November, France arranged for a joint venture including France Telecom SA and Thales SA to offer on-demand cloud technologies stamped as "made in France," Bloomberg News reported.
"It's the beginning of a fight between two giants," Jean- Francois Audenard, an advisor on cloud security to France Telecom, told the news service. "It's extremely important to have the governments of Europe take care of this issue because if all the data of enterprises were going to be under the control of the U.S., it's not really good for the future of the European people."
Cloud privacy and data security concerns remain
For all of Swartz and Verveer's assurances that the United States and EU member states have a thorough and consistent set of agreements concerning privacy and data security in place for the cloud-computing era, many U.S. businesses remain concerned. In November, a group of leading technology and finance companies organized under the National Foreign Trade Council, including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Visa and Citi, issued a lengthy policy agenda (PDF available here) for modernizing global trade rules to address the movement of data over national borders.
"Despite the widespread benefits of cross-border data flows to innovation and economic growth, and due in large part to gaps in global rules and inadequate enforcement of existing commitments, digital protectionism is a growing threat around the world," the companies wrote. "A number of countries have already enacted or are pursuing restrictive policies governing the provision of digital commercial and financial services, technology products, or the treatment of information to favor domestic interests over international competition."
In urging policy makers to address and harmonize the emerging laws and policies governing cross-border data flow, the companies warned that left unchecked, new regulations "could become significant non-tariff trade barriers to the digital economy."
Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.
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