Thursday, 27 September 2012

EU to unveil plans for cloud ‘boost’

EU telecoms regulators will spell out today how they want to accelerate the use of ‘cloud’ computing by public bodies and companies, in the hope of boosting the region’s GDP by nearly €1 trillion through the next eight years. Concerns about privacy and data loss have hampered the take-up in Europe of cloud computing, where customers’ data is stored on remote servers that can be accessed from anywhere over the internet.

The European Commission wants to address such worries by getting experts to clarify tricky legal questions on data protection and to develop a global privacy standard, it says in a draft of the strategy to be announced today and seen by Reuters. European customers complain that many cloud contracts do not specify who is liable when data is lost. And a proliferation of different standards for privacy and security can confuse prospective customers, though some companies have begun updating the commonly used global information security standard - ISO 27001 - to the cloud era. Commission research shows cloud computing can cut companies' costs by up to 20 per cent and groups like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and have been developing new products and services to attract business "in the cloud".

EU Telecoms Commissioner Neelie Kroes will detail the strategy, which the Commission says could yield €957 billion in increased EU GDP in the years through 2020, creating 3.8 million jobs. Servers in the EU's public sector are up to 90 per cent under-used, commission research shows. Optimising their use would mean they were being accessed by clients in all time zones, so that when one region goes to sleep another wakes up and the server works around the clock.

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Monday, 24 September 2012

Data Protection Commissioner - Facebook

The office of the Data Protection Commissioner has given Facebook four weeks to fully comply with its recommendations on improving user privacy, or it will face enforcement action. The company still has work to do on a "small number" of issues, the Data Protection Commissioner said, and EU regulators would continue to watch the firm closely.

The commissioner said it was satisfied the dominant internet firm had already implemented many of the best practice recommendations regulators made following an audit last year.

Facebook Ireland is responsible for users of the site outside the US and as a result the State's Data Protection Commissioner is responsible for ensuring the company complies with EU and Irish Law. The commissioner said the company had made satisfactory progress on a number of issues, including giving users access to data they placed on the site, the deletion of such data from Facebook when it was no longer required, and the adequate resourcing of compliance functions in Ireland.

Outstanding issues include better education for existing users and avoiding using sensitive data to target online advertising at users. The company could face fines of up to €100,000 if it fails to meet the deadline.

Compliance with EU Law

What's been done
* For EU-based users, Facebook has disabled its tag suggestion feature for photographs. It will delete data generated by this by October 15th
* Users can see what data Facebook holds on them more easily
* Data can be deleted by users from profiles more easily
* Data collected by Facebook is not retained after the purpose for which it is collected has ended

What's left to do
* Changing use of data considered sensitive under European law to target ads at users
* Better education for existing users