My thoughts as an enterprise Java developer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FBI seizures highlight law as cloud impediment | The Wisdom of Clouds - CNET News

FBI seizures highlight law as cloud impediment | The Wisdom of Clouds - CNET News: "The articles report that the FBI raided at least two Texas data centers last week, serving search and seizure warrants for computing equipment, including servers, routers, and storage. The FBI was seeking equipment that may have been involved in fraudulent business practices by a handful of small VoIP vendors.
The problem is that they didn't just grab the systems belonging to the VoIP vendors, but grabbed hundreds of servers serving a wide variety of businesses, the vast majority of which had never dealt with or even heard of the companies under investigation, according to Threat Level. Company officials interviewed complained of losing millions of dollars in lost revenue and equipment with no warning whatsoever."

"If the court upholds that servers can be seized despite no direct warrants being served on the owners of those servers (or the owners of the software and data housed on those servers), then imagine what that means for hosting your business in a cloud shared by thousands or millions of other users."

"Here is what I argue must happen:
The law must respect digital assets in the same way that it respects physical assets. This means that search and seizure rules should apply to data and software run on third party infrastructure (or wholly owned infrastructure run in third party facilities) in the same way that they protect my home and personal property if I rent an apartment in a building housing hundreds of tenants. The fact that one tenant commits a crime is not enough for the civil liberties of all of the other tenants to be null and void. I argue the same goes for digital assets "renting" space in the cloud.
The federal government should adopt a cloud computing bill of rights. (Here is a rudimentary example.) Each state should as well. Declare loud and clear that you suffer little or no loss of rights if you choose to run your business in the cloud over running it within your own facilities. Repeal or revise the laws that make it impossible for foreign businesses and governments to allow communications and data to pass within U.S. borders (including relevant elements of the Patriot Act).
It is time for our policy makers to step up and really understand the influence that the Internet and cloud computing will have on the future growth of this country. It is scary how little technical understanding most congressional and senate members have. However, that alone is not an excuse for not grasping the policy gaps that are brought about as our commerce and society rely increasingly upon Internet-based services."

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