FTC Investigating Cloud Computing
You read that right: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into cloud computing, trying to figure out what the very real security and privacy concerns could mean for consumers and what they have to do about it. The real trouble is that if the FTC hasn’t made itself entirely clear on what “cloud computing” even is, and resellers could be in trouble if the government decides to legislate and regulate SaaS (software as a service) applications like Salesforce.com or Zoho under that umbrella. Here’s the scoop.
In a filing dated December 9 (but only noticed this week, it seems), the FTC’s Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection David Vladeck wrote to Marlene H. Dortch, Esquire, secretary of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that:
“The ability of cloud computing services to collect and centrally store increasing amounts of consumer data, combined with the ease with which such centrally stored data may be shared with others, create a risk that larger amounts of data may be used by entities not originally intended or understood by consumers.”
The filing itself is short, to the point, and well worth a read if you’re at all interested in this, but I digress. The FTC is hosting a workshop later this month to discuss privacy in the Internet age as part of their ongoing efforts to figure out how they and the FCC should approach the network. Needless to say, the results of their investigation will be a major part of their discussion.
As ChannelInsider points out, any FTC action could prove beneficial to VARs if it establishes a common baseline for privacy and security expectations. Who knows – Big Brother’s watchful eye over their shoulder could give SaaS and cloud-based application and service providers incentive to avoid disruptive outages. On the other hand, the money to pay for enhanced security measures has to come from somewhere, and in this case “somewhere” might be the VAR’s margins.
Then again, the FTC could just require additional disclaimers or privacy notices. This is a story in progress, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on it.