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Mapping the Global Policy Environment for Cloud Computing

BSA Global Cloud Computing ScorecardCloud computing is the fastest-growing and most exciting new sector in the software and computing industries. IDC estimates that by 2015 revenue from public IT cloud services will account for one out of every seven dollars spent on commercial software, server, and storage offerings. Private cloud solutions could add another 10 percent or 20 percent to the market. And even more significant for the global economy will be the knock-on benefits that come from accelerating digital commerce and making robust technology solutions available to more users with greater cost efficiencies than ever before.

But in a first-of-its-kind study of the global policy landscape, BSA has come to the troubling conclusion that a patchwork of conflicting laws and regulations threatens to prevent the cloud computing market from reaching its full potential on a global scale. Above all, the BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard finds there is a pressing need for governments to better harmonize their policies to smooth the flow of data across borders.

The Scorecard benchmarks the cloud readiness of 24 countries that together make up 80 percent of the global information and communications technology market. It shows which countries are best positioned to drive the cloud computing revolution; it reveals barriers to growth; and it outlines a set of guiding principles that all countries would be well advised to follow.

In ranking countries’ cloud-related policies, the report finds a sharp divide between advanced economies and the developing world. Japan ranks first overall because it has comprehensive privacy policies that don’t inhibit commerce, a full range of criminal and intellectual property protections to foster innovation, and robust IT infrastructure. The United States and EU countries also have established solid legal and regulatory bases to support the growth of the cloud, while developing countries like China, India, and Brazil show the most room for improvement.

These findings may not be surprising. But the study warns that many high-ranking countries are beginning to wall themselves in with technology preferences and market-distorting regulations. Lawmakers in some EU countries, for example, are doing things to keep non-European firms waiting at the border while favoring local cloud providers. This does not bode well, because it effectively chops the global cloud into little pieces.

To have a truly global cloud market, we don’t need every country’s laws to be identical. But they need to be compatible. In the report, BSA offers governments a seven-point policy blueprint for expanding economic opportunity in the cloud with a more level playing field:

  1. Protect users’ privacy while enabling the free flow of data and commerce.
  2. Promote cutting-edge cybersecurity practices that counter threats by drawing on the innovative capacity of the market.
  3. Battle cybercrime with meaningful deterrence and clear causes of action against criminals.
  4. Provide robust protection and vigorous enforcement against misappropriation and infringement of cloud technologies.
  5. Encourage openness and interoperability among cloud providers and technologies.
  6. Promote free trade by lowering barriers and eliminating preferences for particular products or providers.
  7. Provide incentives for the private sector to invest in broadband infrastructure, and promote universal access to it among citizens.

Click here to visit an interactive microsite where you can browse or download the full report plus individual country summaries.

Robert Holleyman


As President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 until April 2013, Robert Holleyman long served as the chief advocate for the global software industry. Before leaving BSA to start his own venture, Cloud4Growth, Holleyman led the most successful anti-piracy program in the history of any industry, driving down software piracy rates in markets around the world.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in the intellectual property world, he was instrumental in putting into place the global policy framework that today protects software under copyright law. A widely respected champion for open markets, Holleyman also was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the principal advisory committee for the US government on trade matters.

Holleyman was a leader in industry efforts to establish the legal framework necessary for cloud-computing technologies to flourish. He was an early proponent for policies that promote deployment of security technologies to build public trust and confidence in cyberspace. And he created a highly regarded series of forums for industry executives and policymakers to exchange points of view and forge agreements on the best ways to spur technology advances and promote economic growth.

Before heading BSA, Holleyman was a counselor and legislative adviser in the United States Senate, an attorney in private practice, and a judicial clerk in US District Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, a J.D. from Louisiana State University, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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