Prism revelations drive users from US cloud providers

Prism revelations drive users from US cloud providers

A survey of users of cloud computing from around the world has found many to be reluctant to use US-based services as a result of revelations about the US Government’s surveillance network, Prism, by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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The US-based Cloud Security Alliance surveyed 456 organisations from around the world. Of the 207 respondents from outside the US, 56 percent said they were less likely to use US-based cloud providers as a result of the revelations and 10 percent said they had cancelled a project to use US-based cloud providers. Thirty one percent said the revelations would have no impact on their usage of US-based cloud providers and three percent said there were more likely to use US-based cloud providers.

Of the 220 US based respondents, 36 percent said the Snowden leaks made it more difficult for them to conduct business outside the US. From US respondents there was also strong opposition to the Patriot Act. Forty one percent said it should be repealed in its entirety, 45 percent said it should be modified to tighten the oversight of permitted activities and to provide greater transparency as to how often it is invoked. Only 13 percent thought it was fine as it stood.

The survey was conducted online via SurveyMonkey from June 25, 2013 to July 9, 2013. Almost all respondents, 91 percent, thought companies that had been subpoenaed through provisions of the Patriot Act, such as FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) should be able to publish summary information about the amount of responses they had been required to make.

Respondents were also asked to rate their country's processes to obtain user information for the purpose of criminal and terrorist investigations. Forty seven percent rated the processes as poor, ticking the box “there is no transparency in the process and I have no idea how often the government accesses my information.” Only 10 percent rated the process as excellent, ticking the box “It is well documented and I have a good understanding of the prevalence of the access to user information by law enforcement or national security organisations.”

CSA published the results with the caveat that it was not representing the survey results to be indicative of anything more than what CSA members feel about the issue. It also noted: “CSA members, by their very nature, have a heightened sense of concern about issues of trustworthiness in cloud computing.”

“Whilst governments decide what levels of privacy will be the norm for companies around the world, one thing is clear,” said Bennett Oprysa, CEO at BitCloud. “Cloud computing is the single most revolutionary discovery in the 21st century. The cloud continues to enable businesses to grow and make better use of resources all around; it also provides added levels of security so your data is in effect safer. The benefits outweigh the security risks for most Australian businesses and building on that trust is good for the cloud.” said Oprysa.

Nevertheless its conclusion was that “the results point to a great deal of concern as to the impact on commercial cloud computing activities as a consequence of [Snowden’s leaks].” It is calling on key stakeholders to “to have a public dialogue to discuss issues of citizen privacy and transparency in addition to the very important topic of maintaining a nation’s security.”

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