The BSA | The Software Alliance has released its global ranking of cloud computing policies, assessing the cloud readiness and policies of the world’s 24 leading ICT economies, with the UK dropping down the leader board.
The UK dropped two places in the rankings to ninth, whereas Japan maintained its position at the top of the leader board, and the US improving its position coming in second place. The 24 countries ranked in the research account for roughly 80% of global ICT revenues. Each country is ranked depending on its strengths and weaknesses in seven policy areas; data privacy, security, cybercrime, intellectual property right, support for standards, promotion of free-trade and IT readiness & broadband deployment.
“It’s worrying to see the UK starting to fall behind other faster-moving nations in creating policies which enable cloud innovation,” said Victoria Espinel, CEO of the BSA. “It’s critical for global leading nations like the UK to be on the front-foot in creating robust policy frameworks fit for the digital age to prevent protectionism, so governments, businesses and consumers can benefit from the various benefits cloud computing offers. The report is a wakeup call for all governments to work together to ensure the benefits of the cloud around the globe.”
The UK scored particularly well when it came to intellectual property rights, security and IT readiness, where it ranked fourth, second and first respectively, but badly in the cybercrime valuation, coming in at number 21 out of 24. Within the other areas it hit the middle of the road, and while overall performance was not negative, the UK fell behind due to the speed and efficiency in which other nations are developing their policies.
In the cybercrime section, where the UK was particularly poor, the report highlighted while the UK was in general compatible with the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, it has not yet implemented laws relating to misuse of devices, as required by Article 6 of the Convention. The report also stated outdated data registration laws are acting as a barrier to some cloud services, as businesses are required to register their data sets with the regulator, which seems to be an unnecessary burden.
The US performed favourably across the majority of the ranking categories, particularly on support for industry standards (first), promotion of free trade (first) and IT readiness (third). The US has been recognized by the report as a particular advocate of free trade and harmonization, as well as standardization, as it “continued to remove barriers to international information technology (IT) interoperability”.
Data privacy was the area in which it performed the worst, where it stated there are no single privacy law in the US, as well as numerous policies which have the potential to create a complicated and confusing landscape. Current key sectoral privacy laws include the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The report also drew attention to the compatibility between the US with the privacy principles in the EU Data Protection Directive, of which there is little. According to the report “US organizations also have a range of voluntary options to ensure their data protection practices are compatible with the principles in the EU Directive”, though these are not backed up by government policy or legislation. This has been a point of discussion throughout the industry, following Safe Harbour being shot down, and its successor receiving criticism from certain corners of the EU.
While the report does outline progress in the development of IT and cloud policies throughout the world, it does also bring attention to several nations who have been demonstrating negative trends. Countries such as China and Russia have implemented policy which could be seen to inhibit the growth of cloud computing within their countries, by limiting the ability of cloud computing service providers to adequately move data across borders.
“The Scorecard shows that countries are eager to welcome cloud computing and its myriad economic benefits, and many of them are creating a favourable regulatory and legal environment,” said Espinel. “Unfortunately, the Scorecard also shows some countries are heading down a path of treating cloud computing as the next frontier of protectionism. The report is a wakeup call for all governments to work together to ensure the benefits of the cloud around the globe.”
Russia for example has implemented a legal requirement that data operators store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers based in Russia, as well as personal data information system (irrelevant of the simplicity of the database) must be certified by the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC). In turn this data can only be used on software and hardware which has also been approved by the FSTEC.
The BSA believes will have a negative impact on the company’s digital economy, stating “The local requirements are not compliant with generally accepted international standards, and Russia does not participate in the Common Criteria Recognition Agreement (CCRA).”