A couple of weeks ago, I attended a one day conference on Cloud Law and more specifically reviewing the latest developments in this field. The venue could not be more appropriate than the Law Society's premises in London. This venerable institution was formed all the way back in 1825 and it is one of the most prestigious professional associations of lawyers in the world.
Two conclusions could be reached from the mountain of information presented:
Firstly the current situation regarding Cloud regulation from a global perspective - excuse the pun - is rather cloudy. But seriously, from an individual country's perspective, general consumer law and the like may be probably sufficient to define the parameters within which outsourcing cloud services can safely operate. But the Cloud is by definition a business without boundaries. A service provider in country X who is using a data centre in country Y with a customer using the services in country Z is another story and good luck if you need to untangle jurisdiction or have to resort to legal action, for one reason or another. Microsoft had to put themselves in a position of "contempt of court" in the U.S. in order to get the courts to settle on the question of cross border access of information. Dervish Tayyip, Assistant General Counsel of Microsoft, one of the speakers in the conference stated that they are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court in order to create precedent.
Secondly it was abundantly clear that the Cloud is here to stay. Ignore this at your peril. All presenters without exception were convinced that this disruptive technology represents the future and the main actors in this play come from the SMB sector. By the way to quote another source, a recent survey by CSC which I came across at the same time, has found that 81% of Financial services companies are investing heavily in Hybrid cloud and 86% of the same in Private Cloud solutions. Now bearing in mind that this is an industry with the greatest restrictions and regulations and the most serious constraints in adopting cloud, these are impressive numbers.
The most encouraging news I felt, is that the big five in the cloud business, namely Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google are now starting to push governments and consultative bodies to establish a global playing field, which ideally will result in an international harmonisation of laws and regulations. By the way one of the speakers hinted that these five will eventually remain the only serious leaders of the Cloud universe.
On the negative side it was noted that the growing mistrust across the Atlantic threatens the growth of isolationism and protectionism in Europe. I thought that the recentnews of the proposal by European governments that Google should be broken down in more than one entity to prevent the creation of monopoly was somewhat surreal, but apparently in earnest.
One final word of advice. If one of your children is trying to choose a profession for the future, tell them to become cloud lawyers. The world will need lots and lots of them soon.
Tony is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has worked for many years both in accounting practice as well as in the finance industry. He has a long track record in the application of financial and other software both as an end user as well as a provider of software and services to third parties.