The European Commission has sought feedback from cloud providers and web users for an upcoming strategy paper which could set the stage for an overhaul of the continent’s data protection laws.
The study will cover views on data protection and liability in cross-boarder situations, legal and technical barriers that can slow down European cloud developments, interoperability, SME take-up and ways to promote innovation.
The strategy will aim to “clarify the legal conditions for the take-up of cloud computing in Europe”.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president for the EU’s Digital Agenda initiative was excited about the potential for cloud computing to cut costs.
“We need a well-defined cloud computing strategy to ensure that we make the best use of this potential,” she said.
At a recent Microsoft conference, Kroes argued that changing cloud providers should be as easy as switching mobile phone operators, and hoped Europe could turn its data protection regime into a "competitive advantage" for cloud investments.
Microsoft has long complained that Europe’s its 1995 Data Protection Directive produced a fractured legal landscape that was difficult to comply with.
While removing legal obstacles might encourage investment in European cloud infrastructure, Kroes’ hope that users can easily switch cloud providers may be some time off, due to a lack of cloud computing interoperability standards.
Google lobbyist, Vint Cerf, recently pointed out that none of the major cloud providers had the capacity to communicate with each other. Standards body the IEEE has promised to establish cloud computing standards to promote data interoperability, portability and federation.