For AmCham Quaterly: Education and Public Awareness are Essential for the…31 май 2011
What is the European Parliament currently doing with cloud computing and which of its legal aspects will be on the Parliament’s legislative draft agenda?
The European Parliament has not yet started a legislative procedure for cloud computing. The Commission holds the powers to initiate European legislative acts, and while it hasn’t presented an official communication on this issue yet, I am confident one will be coming very soon. Meanwhile, I would like to emphasise that the Parliament is very active in clearing the way for cloud computing, as it prepares several draft pieces of legislation. These focus on some important elements that relate to cloud computing, such as the current report on data protection in the EU.
Last but not least, the importance of the cloud in reaching the EU Digital Agenda flagship targets is increasingly reflected in several legislative reports of the European Parliament committee on Industry, Research and Energy. For example, I have recently introduced an amendment recognising the role broadband network deployment will play in boosting cloud technologies in Europe.
Compared to other economic areas, is Europe acting fast enough to facilitate investments in cloud services?
I think the EU is heading in the right direction in terms of cloud computing investments. But, of course, the European industry sector should play a leading role in this area and should focus on the emerging challenges in the European market. Technology moves much quicker than legislation.
On the other hand, investment should be strongly supported by coherent legislation and consumer strategy. We cannot afford to wait much longer.
Apart from the unquestionable economic benefits for adopting cloud computing, what other benefits do you foresee?
I envision that the cloud will provide a revolutionary platform for IT services, a closer link between users’ needs and better access to services. The incentives and benefits it will bring to businesses, particularly for SMEs, are immeasurable. That goes for mobile device users as well; it’s a market that is constantly growing. Cloud
computing will definitely pave the way to a new, more efficient and more interconnected use of cyberspace.
What can be done to educate consumers about these benefits?
Enforcing a common standard on a new technology won’t be easy. In the mid-1990s, the worldwide web was perceived by many as being too complicated and advanced for use by the public at large. It took almost a decade for the internet to be considered a public utility, and even as a ‘fundamental right’.
Therefore, I think that education and public awareness are necessary. Consumers need to feel confident when using the cloud; they need to be aware of the benefits and the associated risks that this technology brings.
What are the major challenges you see to the further uptake of cloud computing?
Technically speaking, interoperability and common standards appear to me as quite important. From the legislative point of view, I am convinced that data privacy, intellectual property rights and security of networks have the biggest question marks. In this regard, I would like to emphasise that the EU has still not come up with a coherent European strategy on cyber-security. Some Member States have felt vulnerable to cyber-attacks; we need to ensure that cloud services and content are not threatened by such attacks. And it would be beneficial if all relevant stakeholders focus on the current state of play and on the urgent prerogatives around cloud- development and deployment. The development of new online services is a key factor for broadband take up, in line with the Digital Agenda. But a performing infrastructure is also a pre-requisite to boost cloud computing services. What are the policies needed in Europe to encourage the necessary investment in additional bandwidth and avoid slowing down the development of cloud computing?
It is true that the cloud would be much less effective if the appropriate infrastructure is not in place. It would be like having a car without the engine. Therefore, investment in cloud infrastructures as well as research and technological development is crucial.
In this regard, we should also focus on data shipping over anticipated broadband speeds and on the possibilities for backing investments via public-private partnerships.
But a performing infrastructure is also a pre-requisite to boost cloud computing services. What are the policies needed in Europe to encourage the necessary investment in additional bandwidth and avoid slowing down the development of cloud computing?
It is true that the cloud would be much less effective if the appropriate infrastructure is not in place. It would be like having a car without the engine. Therefore, investment in cloud infrastructures as well as research and technological development is crucial. In this regard, we should also focus on data shipping over anticipated broadband speeds and on the possibilities for backing investments via public-private partnerships.
What best practice examples of cloud computing from outside Europe should we look at? Can the US-EU market for cloud services set a precedent for the rest of the world?
I think that Ambassador William Kennard stated it best during a recent AmCham EU debate: when it comes to cloud computing, the United States and the European Union are working the most closely on the issue, and should lead the way in the cooperation and best practices’ exchange processes. This can happen by intensifying transatlantic stakeholder consultations between industry, government and the research community.