The censored cloud: The new reality for us all

Russia and China may reflect the extremes of government information control, but a new world order will affect all cloud users and providers

U.S. firms have reportedly been told they must store Russians’ local data and metadata on Russian soil. In following this order, they will abide by the same restrictions on free speech applied toh traditional Russian media. If they don’t comply, they may be blocked in Russia.

This is one instance in a long line of laws and regulations coming from countries as their information systems move to cloud-based providers. The issue is control. Years ago, you could raid a small newspaper and halt production to stop the flow of information. These days, the information is everywhere, including on servers that are inside and outside of any one nation’s control.

Keep in mind that Russia is not creating new laws merely for American social media and cloud companies. The government wants all foreign companies operating in Russia to comply with laws that govern technology companies in Russia. It has even created a blogger registry, which is a scary concept.

As cloud computing grows in popularity outside of the United States, other countries won’t go as far as Russia or China have in trying to control information. However, issues such as the Edward Snowden revelations will continue to drive news, and U.S.-based cloud companies will have to learn to do business in the new world order. This means understanding how to manage data in different ways and in different countries, as well as how to submit to audits and even raids from time to time.

Due to these regulations, some U.S.-based companies simply won’t do business in certain countries. It’s not the politics but the cost and the risk. Countries with businesses that could benefit from the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft won’t find them as available resources. They will need to deal with the local in-country providers or keep data within their own firewalls.

Although regulatory environments should not drive the use of technology, they often do. Cloud computing presents unique opportunities for traditional enterprises -- as well as threats to governments. It will be interesting to see how enterprises and governments alike respond to the challenges.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.