By Allie Philpin
Cloud computing in Europe is significantly gaining ground, which has led the Vice President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, to call for one privacy law throughout Europe that details stronger regulations for privacy protection in her speech to the European Commission last week, titled “Data protection reform: restoring trust and building the digital single market.”
The Boston Consulting Group claims that EU citizens’ data was valued at €315 billion in 2011, which can potentially rise to around €1 trillion a year in 2020; quite staggering figures. Reding herself highlighted the point that should an organisation conduct their business in every European member state (28 in total), they are obliged to comply with the data protection rules and regulations set out by each country – that’s 28 different sets of laws! What is worrying is that the level of data security and privacy rules is also different for each country; and with the economic significance of personal data also rising exponentially as more and more businesses adopt cloud computing in order to deal with the masses of data they are having to deal with cost effectively, something needs to be done to address this issue.
92% of Europeans are worried about mobile apps that collect their personal data without their consent, and 89% say they want to be told when their personal data stored on their smartphone is shared with a third party, says Reding. Combine that with the recent revelations by Snowdon and the NSA-PRISM activities, no wonder trust in the digital/online environment is eroding. With trust in the US’s data protection and cloud security policies, how much of this is going to affect European businesses? It doesn’t help that Obama’s claim that he would work with Congress to develop a ‘privacy bill of rights’ does not seem to have brought any conclusion to the US’s bad record in data privacy. Indeed, according to the Cloud Security Alliance, 56% of respondents said they would hesitate before working with any US-based cloud service providers and an IPSOS poll this year claimed that 45% of US people believe they possess little, if any, control when it comes to their personal data. At the moment, US organisations have as many rules and regulations to adhere to when they are doing business within their own country – States has different data protection rules; some don’t have any, whilst Arizona has a total of five!
As it appears the US aren’t doing anything constructive to change US Federal law on data protection, maybe it is time the European Union led the way. For two years now, there has been a set of data protection reform proposals on the table; Reding now believes that the anti-Data Protection regulation lobbyists don’t have any more justified arguments to stop the proposals going ahead. The European Parliament and Council have discussed this issue to the hilt; no more dilly-dallying, no more delay, let’s get behind Reding and drive a data protection agreement forward. Europe, for once, needs to lead the way…