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Whistleblower Snowden's Government Leaks Create Concern for U.S. Cloud Providers Regarding Security Issues

25 Jul, 2013

 During June and July of 2013, news of whistleblower, US government contractor Edward Snowden, dominated global headlines. Snowden provided evidence of US government access to information from telecommunications and Internet providers via secret court orders as specified by the Patriot Act. The subsequent news leaks indicated that allied governments of the US may have also received some of this information and acted upon it in unknown ways. As this news became widespread, it led to a great deal of debate and soul searching about appropriate access to an individual's digital information, both within the United States of America and any other country.

Thus, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) initiated a survey to collect a broad spectrum of member opinions about this news, and to understand how this impacts attitudes about using public cloud providers as well as any other broadly available Internet service.

And according to the Register's Richard Chirgwin,Edward Snowden's PRISM revelations will soon impact the balance sheets of US cloud vendors, according to the Cloud Security Alliance.

The CSA group claims their latest survey of its 500 members suggests the NSA leaks would make more than half non-US respondents think twice about hosting their data with American-based providers, and more than 90 percent believe companies should be able to publish transparency-style reports about Patriot Act requests for customer data.

The Patriot Act has frequently emerged as a significant concern among non-US corporations. For example during 2012, Rackspace and Australian provider Macquarie Telecom sniped at each other over such risks. Rackspace had described statements that data stored in the US becomes subject to American snooping as “mischievous”.

Sanguinity about the Patriot Act is no longer in vogue, however: 86 per cent of respondents worldwide believe that bit of legislation should either be abandoned entirely, or should be altered to provide better transparency about, and oversight of, its operations.

However, American respondents to the survey don't believe the data sovereignty issue is going to dent their business, with 64 percent of those saying the Snowden affair isn't making it harder to conduct business offshore. ®

The key first question of the CSA survey indicated the bottomline of non-US Residents/Company's looking to employ US-based cloud providers which revealed:

Survey Question 1: (For non-US residents only) Does the Snowden Incident make your company more or less likely to use US-based cloud providers?

CSA received 207 responses from self-identified non-US residents:

 56% less likely to use US-based cloud providers
 31% no impact on usage of US-based cloud providers
 10% cancelled a project to use US-based cloud providers
 3% more likely to use US-based cloud providers

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