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Have you heard about the new CLOUD Act data regulation?

Have you heard about the new CLOUD Act data regulation?

new CLOUD Act data regulation

Have you heard about the new CLOUD Act data regulation?

The new CLOUD Act data regulation became law as part of the recent $1.3 Trillion (USD) omnibus U.S. government budget spending bill passed by Congress on March 23, 2018 and signed by President of the U.S. (POTUS) Donald Trump in March.

CLOUD Act is the acronym for Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data, not to be confused with initiatives such as U.S. federal governments CLOUD First among others which are focused on using cloud, securing and complying (e.g. FedRAMP among others). In other words, the new CLOUD Act data regulation pertains to how data stored by cloud or other service providers can be accessed by law environment officials (LEO).

U.S. Supreme court
Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) Image via https://www.supremecourt.gov/

CLOUD Act background and Stored Communications Act

After the signing into law of CLOUD Act, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) to dismiss the pending case against Microsoft (e.g., Azure Cloud). The case or question in front of SCOTUS pertained to whether LEO can search as well as seize information or data that is stored overseas or in foreign counties.

As a refresher, or if you had not heard, SCOTUS was asked to resolve if a service provider who is responding to a warrant based on probable cause under the 1986 era Stored Communications Act, is required to provide data in its custody, control or possession, regardless of if stored inside, or, outside the US.

Microsoft Azure Regions and software defined data infrastructures
Microsoft Azure Regions via Microsoft.com

This particular case in front of SCOTUS centered on whether Microsoft (a U.S. Technology firm) had to comply with a court order to produce emails (as part of an LEO drug investigation) even if those were stored outside of the US. In this particular situation, the emails were alleged to have been stored in a Microsoft Azure Cloud Dublin Ireland data center.

For its part, Microsoft senior attorney Hasan Ali said via FCW “This bill is a significant step forward in the larger global debate on what our privacy laws should look like, even if it does not go to the highest threshold". Here are some additional perspectives via Microsoft Brad Smith on his blog along with a video.

What is CLOUD Act

Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data is the new CLOUD Act data regulation approved by Congress (House and Senate) details can be read here and here respectively with additional perspectives here .

The new CLOUD Act law allows for POTUS to enter into executive agreements with foreign governments about data on criminal suspects. Granted what is or is not a crime in a given country will likely open Pandora’s box of issues. For example, in the case of Microsoft, if an agreement between the U.S. and Ireland were in place, and, Ireland agreed to release the data, it could then be accessed.

Now, for some who might be hyperventilating after reading the last sentence, keep this in mind that if you are overseas, it is up to your government to protect your privacy. The foreign government must have an agreement in place with the U.S. and that a crime has or had been committed, a crime that both parties concur with.

Also, keep in mind that is also appeal processes for providers including that the customer is not a U.S. person and does not reside in the U.S. and the disclosure would put the provider at risk of violating foreign law. Also, keep in mind that various provisions must be met before a cloud or service provider has to hand over your data regardless of what country you reside, or where the data resides.

Where to learn more

Learn more about CLOUD Act, cloud, data protection, world backup day, recovery, restoration, GDPR along with related data infrastructure topics for cloud, legacy and other software defined environments via the following links:

Additional learning experiences along with common questions (and answers), as well as tips can be found in Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials book.

Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials Book SDDC

What this all means and wrap-up

Is the new CLOUD Act data regulation unique to Microsoft Azure Cloud?

No, it also applies to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, IBM Softlayer Cloud, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the long list of other service providers.

What about GDPR?

Keep in mind that the new Global Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) go into effect May 25, 2018, that while based out of the European Union (EU), have global applicability across organizations of all size, scope, and type. Learn more about GDPR, Data Protection and its global impact here.

Thus, if you have not heard about the new CLOUD Act data regulation, now is the time to become aware of it.

Ok, nuff said, for now.


Greg Schulz - Microsoft MVP Cloud and Data Center Management, VMware vExpert 2010-2018. Author of Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials (CRC Press), as well as Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press), Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier) and twitter @storageio. Courteous comments are welcome for consideration. First published on https://storageioblog.com any reproduction in whole, in part, with changes to content, without source attribution under title or without permission is forbidden.

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2018 Server StorageIO and UnlimitedIO. All Rights Reserved. StorageIO is a registered Trade Mark (TM) of Server StorageIO.

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Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.