Data ownership – one of the most contentious topics surrounding the cloud – recently moved into the spotlight when members of the European Union raised concerns about conflicts regarding the U.S. Patriot Act and the EU's own Data Protection Directive.
According to a recent IDG News Service report, the subject was brought to the fore last week when Microsoft confirmed that it might be compelled by U.S. authorities to hand over European information stored in the cloud.
Under the Patriot Act, organizations in the United States are required to comply with information requests, even if that information is stored overseas, often without informing those affected by the data. However, this runs in direct conflict with the Data Protection Directive, which requires organizations to inform users when personal data is disclosed.
According to the news provider, European Commission vice president Viviane Reding may be the person to address the issue. Reding has, on several occasions, advocated the need for greater data protection and for more cohesive laws regarding such topics across international borders.
Last month, for example, Reding announced that she will seek to extend data protection requirements throughout the European Union. This announcement came after the release of a survey which found that many Europeans have serious trust issues regarding the way their personal data is handled.
Reding's involvement with the current cloud computing issue may be appropriate because, as IDG pointed out, she has been open to legislation proposed by American senators that would bolster privacy for Internet users. While the bill has not yet gathered universal support in the U.S. Congress, it may be a step in the direction of solving the conflicting legislation between the United States and Europe.