Google announced this week that it would update the contracts for Google Apps customers in Europe, reinforcing them with new data protection clauses that would meet the scrutiny of the European Commission.
Compliance officer Marc Crandall wrote in a blog post:
In 2010, the European Commission approved model contract clauses as a means of compliance with the requirements of the [1995 Data Protection] Directive. The effect of this decision is that by incorporating certain provisions into a contract, personal data can flow from those subject to the Directive to providers outside the EU or the European Economic Area. By adopting model contract clauses, we're offering customers an additional option for compliance with the Directive.
More than four million enterprises use Google Apps globally -- including us.
Our own Jack Clark, stationed in our London bureau, spoke to Crandall directly about the changes. "It's more about the protection and safeguards of the processor of the data," he said. (You can read more here.)
One value of cloud-based services is consistency across the platform; that obviously can be a challenge when such services cross political borders and face different regulations -- nevermind that those regulations keep changing as legislators become more familiar with the implications of such services.