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ACCAN has made a submission to the Australian Computer Society's discussion paper on a Cloud Computing Consumer Protocol. The discussion paper outlines a proposal for a voluntary protocol that would require providers of cloud services to provide a range of information to consumers about (among other things) data ownership, privacy, data backups, how data can be retrieved from the service, and when the provider will turn user information over to law enforcement agencies.

Cloud computing services allow users to take advantage of online tools like webmail, storage and backup, word processors, and social networks. Cloud services can be cheap and easy to use, and save the consumer from having to maintain services themselves. However, many consumers dislike cloud services because of concerns about privacy, security, reliability, data ownership, and so on.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy called for the protocol in its National Cloud Computing Strategy, released in May 2013. The Strategy seeks to increase the use of cloud services, and the protocol is designed to support the strategy by responding to consumers' concerns about using cloud services.

Summary:

ACCAN's submission made two key arguments:

  • A voluntary protocol cannot offer the same protections as compulsory, binding regulation. There is no requirement for a cloud provider to sign up to the proposed protocol, and so there is no guarantee that a particular service will offer any increased protection.
  • The proposed protocol would call for providers to tell consumers about their terms of service, but it would not tell providers what those terms of service should be. A provider could simply tell its consumers about its terms and conditions, even if those terms and conditions were consumer-hostile.

Download: docxACCAN cloud computing consumer protocol submission814.01 KB

Download: pdfACCAN cloud computing consumer protocol submission216.31 KB

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