30 March 2018

Cloudy Property

'Property and the cloud' by Cesare Bartolini, Cristiana Santos and Carsten Ullrich in (2018) 34(2) Computer Law and Security Review 358-390 comments
Data is a modern form of wealth in the digital world, and massive amounts of data circulate in cloud environments. While this enormously facilitates the sharing of information, both for personal and professional purposes, it also introduces some critical problems concerning the ownership of the information. Data is an intangible good that is stored in large data warehouses, where the hardware architectures and software programs running the cloud services coexist with the data of many users. This context calls for a twofold protection: on one side, the cloud is made up of hardware and software that constitute the business assets of the service provider (property of the cloud); on the other side, there is a definite need to ensure that users retain control over their data (property in the cloud). The law grants protection to both sides under several perspectives, but the result is a complex mix of interwoven regimes, further complicated by the intrinsically international nature of cloud computing that clashes with the typical diversity of national laws. As the business model based on cloud computing grows, public bodies, and in particular the European Union, are striving to find solutions to properly regulate the future economy, either by introducing new laws, or by finding the best ways to apply existing principles.