Some of the largest cloud computing companies in the world have formed a new collective to protect customers’ rights with respect to international tech laws. The collective, which includes big names like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Salesforce and Cisco, is called the Trusted Cloud Initiative (TCI). It “seeks to partner with governments around the world to resolve international conflicts of law that impede innovation, security, and privacy, and to establish and ensure basic protections for organizations that store and process data in the cloud.”
Organizations like these operate across international borders and are often subject to different laws in different countries. In a statement they said that governments around the world “seek to gain access to data” using laws that “do not adequately protect human rights and the rule or law, and conflict with laws of other countries”. They added that governments must recognize baseline protections when enacting laws in the cloud era.
“This initiative builds on pre-existing commitments that each of our companies has made in this area, including by undertaking internal human rights impact assessments. It serves as a baseline to which our companies are committed,” the statement said.
Under the TCI, the cloud service providers said they recognize government interests, and that international human rights enshrines the right to privacy. The Trusted Cloud Principles are meant to protect customers’ rights and individuals’ rights to privacy.
The TCI committed to working with others in the technology industry, public interest groups and global policymakers. They are asking governments to seek data from enterprise customers instead of trying to force cloud service providers to provide data when required. The statement also said that governments should provide notice to customers when they seek access to data and that cloud providers need the right to protect their customers’ interests.
The move comes at a time when governments around the world, including key countries like the US, India and the European Union are working on formulating data protection laws. The US has landmark cases running against Google and Facebook, while India’s Personal Data Protection (PDP) bill is also in the works. The European Union (EU), on the other hand, has already set the benchmark for privacy laws through the General Data Protection Regulations and is seen as a front runner for technology regulations around the world.