I read an interesting blog this morning on Allstream’s blog about cloud privacy in Canada.
It’s very relevant, even though it’s the tiniest bit self-serving; he writes, after all for Allstream, a Canadian cloud provider. Being president of the Canadian Cloud Council does qualify him very well to talk about cloud privacy in Canada.
I think he’s absolutely right. There’s no doubt that there is an opportunity for Canadian cloud providers to step in and create a cloud ecosystem where privacy matters. I think it also likely, however, that any serious company would want some kind of assurances on the part of the Canadian government before investing millions of dollars on a secure and private infrastructure only to have CSIS swoop in and legally demand backdoor access into everything.
Think that couldn’t happen in Canada? Think again.
The Harper government has time and again introduced legislation that would give them warrantless access to Internet-based identifying information. It is only through the incredible efforts of activists and public outrage that they backed down. In this climate any company like Allstream would be foolish to bank on a bright future of private cloud servers when we know; I say again: we KNOW that they will introduce legislation like this again and again until finally passes in whatever milder form they can get away with, realizing full well that once it’s in, it can be more easily reinforced, “improved” and modified in the future. They don’t like the idea of cloud privacy, and I can assure you they don’t want it in Canada.
Of course they want to have the same abilities as the NSA, even though they have a smaller budget. Wouldn’t you want the same if you were in their shoes?
Like Switzerland does for banking, we have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves in cloud privacy, if we can have the right leadership and assurances to build a business model that can survive for more than a few years. I believe in this opportunity so much I would join any genuinely Canadian cloud computing initiative on the ground floor, but not before I thought it had a reasonable chance of success long term. In the US, principled companies like Lavabit and Silent Circle closed their doors rather than disclose their customers’ private data.
Would Allstream do the same? I like to think so.
I think he’s also right that Edward Snowden’s revelations may have happened at a crucial time to kill the Canadian spying bill and give us a reprieve from the government’s efforts to spy online without a warrant, simply because so many people are aware of the problem at the moment, and cloud privacy is being discussed at the highest levels of corporations in Canada and the US at the moment.
However, for his vision to have even a chance of success, there has to be a committment, legally binding, court-recognized, on the part of the Canadian government, not to spy on cloud data. An antithesis to the C-30 bill, if you will. If Robert can swing that, then the Canada Cloud and cloud privacy dream may yet be realized. Otherwise, his ideas I’m afraid, like much of my post here, are all just speculation.
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