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Hybrid Licensing The CLOUD Act and How to Safeguard Your Privacy

9. March 2020 – Michael Vilain
Dark Clouds

Passed in the wake of the dreadful happenings on 11th September 2001 in the following month of the same year, the Patriot Act not only brought massive cutbacks to American citizens' civil rights but also had profound implications for the privacy of personal data of other nations' citizens. Microsoft and Google went on to corroborate this a full ten years later by issuing announcements disclosing their obligation to pass on personal information from EU based data centres upon request of US authorities.

The Patriot Act was worded somewhat ambiguously concerning details of how cloud data stored outside of the "homeland" should be retrieved, however. A great number of legal disputes between US companies operating within the European jurisdiction and the US government ensued—with widely varying outcomes. Since then, on-premises data retention using local storage that had already been declared dead by some has in contrast gained new popularity with many European organisations and public authorities wishing to keep their sensitive personal data under their full control.

GDPR Conflicts

In view of the so-called CLOUD (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data) Act, which has been in force since 23rd March 2018 and tightens the previous provisions, more organizations than ever will have started to wonder whether keeping all their data in cloud storage is such a wise thing to do. Fact is, the CLOUD Act allows US authorities in clear violation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to request disclosure of the full details of a person or organisation without those involved needing to be notified of the fact. Furthermore, the CLOUD Act enables the US government to enter into agreements with third countries that allow authorities of those countries to access data stored by US cloud providers as well.

Therefore, organisations wishing to exclude data privacy conflicts arising from the CLOUD Act from the beginning are well advised to design their IT strategy in a hybrid fashion and to work with a sensible blend of cloud and on-premises storage solutions. And anyone with a desire to keep an eye on their costs specifically as well might want to consider using pre-owned software for the on-premises part. Indeed, commercial on-premises software licenses transferred from a previous owner to a new user in a legally compliant way can enable cost savings of up to 70 % compared to purchasing new licenses.

copyright article image: © Amber Avalona/Pixabay

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