BSA: Australia cloud-friendly, EU privacy risks losing it

Software lobby kicks off fight against EU data protection

Software industry lobbyist the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has ranked Australia second out of 24 nations for their suitability to cloud computing, and warns that Europe’s high-ranking is under threat due to its controversial proposed data protection overhaul.

The wide-ranging document (PDF) released Wednesday covers cloud computing in the context of laws relating to security, cybercrime, intellectual property and cross-jurisdictional harmonisation efforts, ranking each nation according to its suitability for data handlers.

With a collective score of 79.2 Australia ranked second in the world behind Japan, based on the nation’s data privacy laws, approach to cybercrime, security, intellectual property as well as ICT investments such as the National Broadband Network.

Australia was ahead of Germany, the US, France, Italy, the UK, Korea, Spain, Singapore, Poland, Canada and 12 other mostly developing nations that make up 80 per cent of the worldwide ICT market.

Australia’s data privacy profile helped give it a high score in that field, since data controllers do not need register while organisations are free from registration requirements when conducting cross-border transfers. Australia also lacked a data breach notification law.

Established cybercrime laws and tough penalties on intellectual property infringement also made Australia cloud friendly, according to the BSA which also lobbies against software piracy, pointing out, for example, that there is a “basis for ISPs to be held liable for content that infringes copyright”.

EU data protection under fire

Broadly, developed nations had more cloud-friendly environments thanks to well established data, security and privacy laws, but the BSA warned that the European Union’s proposal to update its Data Protection Directive “threaten to undermine the economic advances that a truly global cloud can provide.”

“These findings may not be surprising. But the study warns that many high-ranking countries are beginning to wall themselves in with technology preferences and market-distorting regulations,” wrote the BSA’s president Robert Hollyman.

“Lawmakers in some EU countries, for example, are doing things to keep non-European firms waiting at the border while favouring local cloud providers. This does not bode well, because it effectively chops the global cloud into little pieces.”

That proposal, which could see 24 hour breach reporting and massive fines, triggered fierce lobbying from all sides, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding said after she announced the proposal.

The BSA’s voice adds to a varied line up of opponents that include Microsoft and Britain’s data protection authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office, which both agree that the proposal is too prescriptive.

Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer meanwhile has on his personal blog argued that the proposed “right to be forgotten” clause would force Google to become the world’s biggest censor.

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