Computer scientists at the University of Cambridge Computer Lab and lawyers in the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University of London are collaborating on research in cloud computing at in a new virtual research centre.
The Microsoft Cloud Computing Research Centre (MCCRC) is a virtual centre that has been established with generous support from Microsoft. Cloud experts from the Cambridge Computer Lab are working closely with members of the Cloud Legal Project at QMUL on some of the most critical issues in cloud computing.
Over the past five years, researchers from both universities have been working in separate teams on various technical and legal aspects of cloud computing. Although significant progress has been made in addressing both technology and governance issues, it has become increasingly clear that some of the most important challenges will only be solved in a collaborative environment in which relevant technical and legal skills can be combined.
The project is being led jointly by Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of Communications Systems in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, and Christopher Millard, Professor of Privacy and Information Law in the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London. MCCRC was launched at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels in April, with guests from the EU institutions, NGOs and industry, and a lively discussion about resilience, privacy and law enforcement access to data in the cloud.
The MCCRC aims to demonstrate thought leadership in various complex and difficult areas where technology and regulation intersect and have an impact on the safe and successful development of cloud computing. The focus will be on specific challenges that require a multi-disciplinary approach and that are of vital importance to individuals, governments and businesses globally. While not every problem that is tackled will be soluble, at least in the short term, it is intended that the rigorous scrutiny and analysis undertaken by the participants in MCCRC will stimulate a constructive debate and allow the development of appropriate solutions.
MCCRC has been set up to run for an initial period of three years and the research agenda will evolve in response to technological and regulatory developments. Work has begun on the technical and legal implications of proposals to design and deploy jurisdiction-specific clouds, for example an ‘EU-cloud’ or a cloud dedicated to a particular country. Whether such initiatives are appropriate, or indeed possible, will depend on fundamental technical considerations, for example regarding network design, information flow control, and virtualization technology, as well as complex legal issues relating to applicable law and jurisdiction, and the regulation of international data transfers.