Microsoft vs US.gov: 5 topics for 2015

2015Cloud, Big Data, the Internet of Things are among the hottest topics that vendors are driving in 2015. In this 5-part series, I highlight five legal developments that are worth tracking.

1. Microsoft and US government go to court

Again, Microsoft is resisting attempts by the US government to get access to the user data it is holding outside the US. Microsoft has been storing user data geographically closer to said user, as this not only reduces lag (improving the user experience) but, in theory at least, reduces the ability of governments to get access to that data.

The revelations by Edward Snowden of wide-scale access by the US government to data under the NSA’s Prism programme – particularly to data of non-US nationals – have given rise to a new global tension in the cloud sector.

While everyone suspected the US government was accessing data, few knew the scale. This has put the spotlight on US cloud providers. If customers believe the US government can access their data because it is held by a US provider, the fear is they will move to cloud without a US angle, meaning the government is potentially damaging the growth of its own cloud industry.

Microsoft is taking a stand. The New York District Court ruled in the US government’s favour allowing it to rely upon the Stored Communications Act to get access to personal data that Microsoft had stored in Dublin. The company has yet to comply with the order running the risk that it will be held in contempt of court, leading to fines.

The latest salvo in this battle of the cloud came in December 2014, when Microsoft’s General Counsel published a list of companies and organisations who had filed “friend of the court” briefs supporting Microsoft’s position. This is an impressive list including technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, Cisco, eBay, HP, Rackspace, Salesforce and Verizon. It also includes 17 major news and media companies such as CNN, ABC, Fox News, Forbes and The Guardian.

This year is likely to be when we finally get resolution, one way or another. At stake is potentially the entire non-USA cloud business of US cloud providers.

Agree? Don’t agree? Add your comment below.

Part 1: Microsoft vs US.gov

Part 2: Internet of Things will cause privacy concerns

Part 3: Massive data security fines get closer

Part 4: Google Spain case will get greater scrutiny

Part 5: Cloud standards get closer

This post first appeared on The Channel | The Register as Microsoft vs US.gov, Internet of Stuff, Big Data: Some of 2015’s legal cloudy issues

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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