The European Commission (“EC”) has made a number of recommendations aimed at building trust in the region’s cloud computing providers, with the objective of Europe becoming the world’s leading cloud region.  

What?

The EC has expressed concern that an effect of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s exposé of the US government’s controversial PRISM programme could be a decline in the appetite for the adoption of cloud computing services.  Cloud computing is described in a recent EC Memo as “essential for improving productivity levels in the European economy”.  The EC says that European cloud providers must turn the recent revelations into an opportunity to develop cloud services that are globally trusted, building on Europe’s “relatively high standards” of data protection, security and transparency. 

The European Cloud Partnership Steering Board has identified two issues in particular that it considers must be addressed to achieve this:

  • reservations amongst businesses, public sector bodies and European citizens over security and confidentiality affects the uptake of cloud computing and could lead to Europe lagging behind; and
  • calls for national or regional cloud computing initiatives as a result of the PRISM revelations could lead to fragmentation or segmentation of the market, holding back the development of cloud computing in Europe.  

So what?

The EC believes that, in order to boost the competitiveness of the European economy, cloud providers must restore trust through greater transparency, maintaining high standards of information security (by ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information) and providing audit reports enabling customers to check who has accessed their data, when and why. 

Whilst emphasising the importance of collaboration between all stakeholders, the EC is particularly keen to see a wide adoption of cloud computing amongst public sector bodies – as the region’s largest procurer of IT services, it is believed that this will drive adoption amongst other enterprises.    

The Memo states that the “fundamental principle at stake is the need to look beyond borders when it comes to cloud computing” and warns that “separate initiatives or a ‘Fortress Europe’ approach is not going to work”. 

It is now in the hands of businesses and public sector bodies in Europe to take recent events which many commentators have seen as a stumbling block for cloud computing and turn it into an opportunity for growth.