Cloud Computing Code of Conduct assessed

| Published on 17 Aug 2015

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Being a rapidly growing industry that businesses and the European Union cannot ignore, and which comes with its unique set of problems, through Cloud Computing, users can store, process and access data without being limited to a particular device, using remotely located devices accessed through an Internet connection, thus making data access more convenient and opening up opportunities for businesses.

In a 2012 communication from the Commission to European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe’, the Commission recognised Cloud Computing as being an important developing area and also recognised the importance of regulating it.

In the communication, the Commission identified key areas that may cause challenges when it comes to the proper regulation of Cloud Computing:

  • Fragmentation of the digital single market due to differing national legal frameworks and uncertainties over applicable law – in this regard, digital content and data location ranked highest amongst the concerns of potential Cloud Computing adopters and providers;
  • Challenges with contracts related to concerns over data access and portability, change control and ownership of data;
  • Large variances in standards generating confusion by, on one hand, a proliferation of standards and on the other hand a lack of certainty as to which standards provide adequate levels of interoperability of data formats to permit portability.

The Commission was clear in stating that it does not envision the creation of what it calls a ‘European super cloud’, but rather stressed its aim to harmonise available cloud offerings and to ensure that they are up to European Union standards, as well as ensuring that such cloud offerings are competitive, open, and secure.

To meet these issues the Commission recognizes three key actions which needed to be implemented: the cutting through the ‘jungle of standards’, the safe and fair contract terms and conditions, and the establishing of a European Cloud Partnership, thus driving innovation and growth from the public sector.

From this the Commission created a Code of Conduct on Cloud Computing that is currently being assessed by the Article 29 Working Party. Cloud computing experts at the Commission stated that the Code was passed to the Article 29 Working Part for assessment ‘to ensure legal certainty and coherence between the code of conduct and EU law.’

The Article 29 Working Party is expected to publish its opinion in the second half of 2015.

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