ACS, Government combine for cloud protocol

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ACS, Government combine for cloud protocol

Attempt to build industry self-regulation.

The Australian Computer Society and Australian Government have called for input from the private sector into a national cloud computing protocol.

The cloud computing protocol, a recommendation from the Australian Government's national cloud strategy released in May, is currently being developed by ACS in consultation with industry and consumer stakeholders. The voluntary protocol is due to take effect in January 2014.

The protocol aims to provide consistent market behaviour around such issues as the way such services are marketed and the extent to which they comply with existing Australian consumer protection and privacy laws.

Senator Kate Lundy, Assistant Minister for the Digital Economy, has called for feedback from industry and consumers on a discussion paper (pdf).

“It is important that business and government are in lock-step in developing consumer protections when implementing the national cloud computing strategy,” Lundy said.

ACS head of policy and external affairs Adam Redman said the protocol would most importantly disperse the confusion and mistrust holding many Australian businesses back from adopting the kinds of solutions that the Society feels will benefit them in the long run.

“IT is a specialised industry and there is an asymmetry of knowledge. It is no different to other industries - if I go into the mechanic and he quotes me $10,000 to fix my car, how do I know that this is an honest quote?" Redman said.

“One of the things we want to do with the protocol is rebalance this asymmetry."

He hopes the protocol will encourage vendors to be upfront with consumers in responding to data privacy and security issues.

"People want answers to questions like, 'what happens to my data, particularly if it is stored overseas?' or 'what happens if my cloud vendor amalgamates with another company or is acquired? When I choose to delete that data, is it really gone for good?'” Redman said.

Ideally, the protocol will also safeguard the market to the extent that the government does not feel compelled to intervene and regulate, he said.

“The issue of mobile bill shock a while back compelled the government to step in and regulate the telecommunications market," he said. "We hope that this protocol will allow us to avoid a regulatory regime around cloud.'

The cloud protocol discussion paper puts ten questions to the industry and stakeholders, seeking information on the “experiences you have had with cloud computing which illustrate issues such as data security, data location, privacy or vendor lock‐in” all the way to “potential compliance costs, jurisdictional complexities and the interaction between the protocol and other cloud standards currently being developed globally”.

The discussion paper will remain open for comments until August 5, 2013.

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