New “cloud” technology is as safe and secure as anywhere else on the Internet and doesn’t need special regulation, the president of a top Washington technology think tank said on Thursday.
Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, told a Capitol Hill audience that cloud networks, which store and process information on centralized, remote servers rather than individual devices (think Internet-based e-mail such as Gmail versus e-mail downloaded to a PC), can reduce expenses and provide greater flexibility.
Because cloud-based information is accessed over the Internet, it has raised concerns about privacy and security. But Atkinson said that cloud computing is no more risky than more-familiar Internet applications.
“There is really no difference in privacy or security,” he said. “Any regulation should be neutral, so they treat the cloud the same as other technologies.”
Hewlett-Packard’s chief technology officer, Jeff Bergeron, agreed. He said that market forces are often enough to make companies protect information.
“The last place a service provider wants to be is on a front page because of a hack,” Bergeron said. He said that any vulnerabilities in cloud networks exist for the Internet as a whole.
Atkinson said that lawmakers should revisit electronic-communication privacy laws on Internet-based information, which he noted are looser than those that protect information stored on a home computer.
One area of risk that Atkinson did point to is the global nature of cloud technology.
Because information could be stored on servers anywhere in the world, governments could start to practice a form of “mercantilism” to force companies to store information in certain geographic areas, Atkinson said.
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