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The 2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard: A Clear Path to Progress

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It’s no secret that enterprises of all types and sizes are embracing cloud computing. Worldwide, that migration will add more than $1 trillion a year in new business revenues, according to research firm IDC. Less understood, however, is the fact that governments are promulgating a mismatched patchwork of laws and regulations that effectively chop the global cloud market into country-sized pieces.

BSA’s newly released 2013 Global Cloud Computing Scorecard illustrates this worrisome trend. Building on baseline measurements we established last year in the inaugural edition of the Scorecard, this new report is the first study ever to track year-over-year changes in the global policy landscape for the burgeoning cloud. It finds that legal frameworks for cloud computing are improving, but unevenly. This patchiness threatens to undermine the economies of scale and efficiency that are at the heart of the cloud’s value proposition.

This year’s study finds noteworthy progress among a small number of countries that have quickly advanced in the Scorecard rankings by embracing key international norms and adopting policies to build user trust while enabling innovation. Singapore, for example, has jumped from 10th to fifth in this year’s rankings by enacting a new privacy law that recognizes people’s right to protect their personal information and companies’ need to use data for reasonable purposes.

But the study also finds that many of the world’s biggest IT markets, while starting from a strong position, appear to be losing momentum. All six EU countries covered in the study have slid in the 2013 rankings. Even more troubling is the fact that countries such as Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam are taking steps to effectively unplug themselves from the global cloud — by tying up cloud providers in administrative red tape, for example, or preventing international players from entering local markets.

This back-tracking is significant, not only because it impacts individual economies and consumers, but because the patchwork-policy effect limits the horizons of the entire global market for cloud computing services. Mismatched laws and regulations can act like virtual walls and fences, making it hard for data to flow across borders. In some cases, the motivation for these policies is to foster local cloud services. But the irony is protectionism doesn’t really protect anyone. It only inhibits business growth and reduces consumer choice in the inherently global digital economy.

The Cloud Scorecard underscores that no country is an island in the cloud era; everyone benefits from a cohesive approach. We don’t need rigidly uniform cloud laws from one country to the next. But policymakers around the world must provide legal and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation, provide incentives to build the infrastructure to support it, and promote confidence that using the cloud will bring the anticipated benefits without sacrificing expectations of privacy, security, and safety. The Scorecard provides a policy blueprint for making that happen. If countries around the world follow it, we will be on a clear path to progress.

Robert Holleyman

Author:

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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