Kroes: Cloud regulation vital for Europe's future

Digital agenda commissioner wants to focus on legal issues, standardisation and the market...

Digital agenda commissioner wants to focus on legal issues, standardisation and the market...

Neelie Kroes wants cloud computing to be better regulated

European digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes believes that effective regulation will allow cloud computing to play a central role in Europe's futurePhoto: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Cloud computing needs to be better regulated if it's to develop and contribute to the Europe's economic future, according to European digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes.

In an official blog, Kroes said cloud computing is increasingly important in terms of ICT strategy and investment and is "critical to Europe's growth".

She added that effective regulation of cloud computing will allow the internet to continue to be a source of innovation and growth. If nothing is done, Europe's IT infrastructure could fail to meet the cloud-computing demands for accessing data, negatively impacting Europe's digital economy.

However, Kroes said she wasn't seeking for the EC to control and govern cloud computing but for it to protect the internet. "We can't simply assume that voluntary approaches like codes of conduct will do the job. Sometimes you need the sort of real teeth only public authorities have," she wrote.

Kroes believes there are three areas that need to be addressed for cloud computing to prosper in Europe: legal framework, technical and commercial fundamentals and the market.

Concerns about data protection and privacy across international boundaries have held back cloud adoption for some organisations and so Kroes wants to make sure there is a clear legal framework in terms of where data can be stored and which organisations are responsible and liable for it.

The second area of focus, according to Kroes, is for the European Union to play a stronger role in the standardisation of APIs and data formats associated with the cloud. This kind of work will improve interoperability of cloud technologies and foster better competition between cloud vendors.

Kroes said international standardisation efforts could have a huge impact on cloud computing. She added that the EU could play a major role through initiatives such as the Standards and Interoperability for e-Infrastructure Implementation Initiative, or Siena, which supports the development of the European distributive computing infrastructure and a road map for future tech infrastructures.

The final area of focus should be the cloud computing market, according to Kroes. Measures in this area could include the scaling up of pilot projects and encouraging the public sector to tap into the potential of cloud computing.

Kroes cited the work of US government CIO Vivek Kundra as a good example of public sector use of cloud and added she's in close contact with Kundra over efforts to standardise the technology.

Kroes is working on a European cloud-computing strategy aimed at making Europe "cloud-active" as well as "cloud-friendly" and a European Commission online consultation about cloud computing is due to run from late April until 23 May.