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Who do you Trust with your Data in the Cloud?

The OpenForum Academy organized two Breakfast Round Tables on “Putting the 'Open' into Open Innovation” for Cloud computing on the 15th and 23rd of May.

The debates come as the European Commission is putting the final touches to its long-awaited cloud computing strategy for Europe. The EU recognises that it needs to become not only cloud-friendly, but cloud-active, if it is to take full advantage of the benefits cloud computing offers. This is especially true for Europe's public sector. We believe this is the right moment to debate the merits of a pro-competitive cloud computing environment that is both global and open.

This report summarizes the discussion that took place during the second round table, titled ‘Who do you Trust with your Data in the Cloud?’. The speakers looked at some of the main threats to an open, global cloud and highlighted the risks arising from assumptions and misconceptions about government access to data, protective regulation and interoperability issues. In the discussion that followed the right mix of intervention was assessed, along with recommendations on the way forward for Europe and the role that the European Commission could play.

Cloud Computing is global; protectionist interventions, creation of obstacles at national/regional level, or local solutions (e.g. the European Cloud) will undermine the potential benefits for Europe. Less is more when it comes to intervention and a one-size-fits-all policy is not likely to be effective. Europe should refrain from protecting European vendors through public procurement and it should promote dynamic competition. The EC should let the market play and apply a light-touch approach to its regulation when needed.

There is significant confusion and it is evident that more clarification and harmonization of the legal framework is necessary. Nevertheless, Europe should compete on its merits and not on misconceptions, such as the beliefs around government access to data in the US and the EU.