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Coherent regulation best for cloud services

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ACMA media release 44/2013 - 13 June

Apps, smartphones and the demand for access to content and media anywhere and on any device mean 71 per cent of Australians are now using a cloud service, whether they know it or not.

However, Australians also have concerns about sharing personal information and there are challenges to regulation intended to protect users, according to a new Australian Communications and Media Authority paper, The cloud: services, computing and digital data─Emerging issues in media and communications, Occasional paper 3 (Word | PDF).

In this, the third of a series of four occasional papers addressing various emerging issues in contemporary communications and media, the ACMA discusses the impact on industry, consumers and citizens of tensions inherent in the current regulation of cloud computing and services. Assessing these tensions is intended to inform the ACMA’s consideration of regulatory strategies to engage constructively with the developing networked society and information economy.

Recent ACMA research identified that 52 per cent of Australians have a low level of confidence in the privacy settings of online providers, such as cloud service providers. A further 35 per cent of Australians would withhold personal information where a site is not based in Australia.

‘The burgeoning cloud services industry in Australia will need to address a number of challenges,’ said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman. ‘Addressing consumer and business concerns about privacy and data management practices will be important in boosting overall confidence in the use of cloud services. This is likely to require further action from both industry and governments.

‘From a regulatory viewpoint, there is a need to reduce current regulatory complexity, while also addressing concerns about personal data protections and the ability to switch data and service providers in the cloud,’ Mr Chapman added. These are offered as some early areas for action to underpin a stable and confident environment for cloud services within a single coherent regulatory framework.’

For consumers using the Cloud, there are also some important tips to remember:

  • Know and use the privacy and security settings for the cloud service
  • Know what the terms and conditions for use of the service are
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly
  • Back-up your information in more than one place.

More information is available in the Backgrounder below. To arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.


BACKGROUNDER

In this series of occasional papers, the ACMA is examining issues in contemporary communications and media. This is an integral part of the ACMA’s regulatory role in facilitating innovative services in the Australian market, as well as assisting individual citizens to positively manage their communications and media experience.

The cloud: services, computing and digital data is the third in a series of four papers exploring different features of contemporary communications and media.

Cloud service is a general term for delivering hosted services over the internet to remotely store, process and share digital data.

The cloud industry is a diverse and globalised one and manifests many of the concerns being expressed by consumers around the privacy, security and management of their personal information in a globalised information economy. Cloud services are representative of a range of communications services which are moving beyond traditional business models and capitalising on changing consumer behaviour.

Consumers are sharing digital information in online environments at an unprecedented level and, for some consumers, there are concerns about the transparency of data management and privacy practices by cloud service providers that inhibit their take-up and engagement with these services.

The ACMA has a multi-faceted interest in the development of the cloud. As the agency responsible for the management of Australia’s radiocommunications spectrum, the potential growth in the use of cloud has implications for future spectrum demand. From the perspective of consumers, strategies to manage potential risks as well as boost their confidence in the protection of personal information, privacy and ownership of their data in the cloud are very relevant issues.

Other papers in the series look at:

 

 

Last updated: 11 October 2013

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