Cloud computing is a way of delivering computing power as a utility service like water or electricity. It allows you to use as much or as little as you need (be it processing power or data storage), when you need it and, thanks to the internet, where you need it.
Like a utility, the provider shares a large resource among a pool of customers, allowing economies of scale and efficient sharing of demand. And like a utility, if you pay for cloud computing services you often do so in proportion to your use, rather than a flat fee.
In the same way that the electricity you use may have been generated in another country where costs are lower, the computer processing power or storage you buy via a cloud service may be based in another country, or indeed may be divided between multiple locations. But as well as the cost and efficiency advantages this brings, this also raises issues of transferring your – or your customers’ – data abroad, of dealing with providers under different legal systems, and of the risks of not having visibility of where that data is.
Furthermore, you may well not have any direct relationship with or even awareness of the organisation(s) that ultimately store(s) or process(es) your data. This is because the cloud provider that you deal with may itself use one or more other cloud providers. This can give rise to questions relating to ownership of data and liability for its loss or misuse.
There is currently considerable uncertainty as to the legal and regulatory status of several essential aspects of cloud computing. The Cloud Legal Project aims to reduce that uncertainty via the production and dissemination of an extensive range of scholarly yet practical research papers that address key legal and regulatory issues that are fundamental to the successful development of cloud computing. Through our research papers, we intend to demonstrate thought leadership in complex and difficult areas of law and regulation that are of vital importance to governments and businesses globally. Read more about our research and our research team.