The European Commission met in Brussels this week to discuss the contracts offered to clients by cloud computing firms, concerned over future legal and privacy issues. Cloud storage has emerged as a viable data storage option for large and small businesses as well as individuals, saving time and money across the board. But according to a policy paper the EC recently released, security and privacy remain complex issues.

The European Commission declared they are working to help the cloud storage industry, not add additional roadblocks. But they feel that the complicated privacy situation and possibility for expensive legal disputes will keep many European citizens from adopting the new technology. Their focus is the contracts these providers offer, which they feel are unnecessarily complex, and packed with confusing and contradictory disclaimers. The EC found that many of these contracts do not hold the provider responsible for confidentiality, the integrity of the data, or any reliable continuity of service.

Since data stored in the cloud is often divided among several data centers which could be managed by more than one company, a dissatisfied client will find legal action next to impossible. The policymakers want to insure that this same workflow that makes cloud computing so attractive for consumers and providers doesn’t simultaneously give the providers a way to avoid accountability.

When pressed, the EC regulators have found that cloud storage companies aren’t clear with their clients what they would do if data is lost or stolen, or even if they would do anything at all. The EC will work alongside the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to come up with a fair and balanced legal solution for these issues, but there is no timetable for when those findings will be announced.

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