What’s The Buzz About The 2012 Cloud Computing Act?

On September 19, 2012, the “Cloud Computing Act of 2012” was filed by Senator Army Klobuchar which provides for better enforcement of civil and criminal laws on cloud computing. However, Eric Goldman of Forbes doesn’t believe that the said bill will ever be passed because it’s election time.

The bill’s provisions hope to provide additional protection to cloud computing services under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The CFAA was a passed in the ‘80s to restrict hacking on anybody’s computer. Such activities like fake profiles, data scraping, and former employees stealing sensitive information were all part of the CFAA. In the proposed bill by Senator Klobuchar, it included unauthorized cloud computing account access as a CFAA offense. It also provided a formula for calculating CFAA violation losses in cloud services and set a fine of at least $500 for every affected account.

According to Goldman, the CFAA itself is already problematic because of the myriads of amendments it had to undergo in the past. Therefore, adding cloud computing services to the CFAA will only bring about more problems. Furthermore, the bill’s definition of cloud computing service is also unintelligible and sounded like a “vendor’s sales pitch”. The definition can be improved by determining what a cloud computing service isn’t. Online banks and websites where users generate content should be included as well. But, according to Goldman, it’s really difficult to define what cloud computing service is. Another issue pointed by Goldman is how the bill can solve any cloud computing service problem.

In that Forbes article, Goldman pointed out that legislators really have no idea about technological innovations and that these technologies are usually poor aspirants for intervention by the legislature. As such, these legislations on technological advancements are just for show. Legislators haven’t learned from all the failed efforts of their colleagues to exactly define terms used in the internet. According to Goldman, legislators can try to update the CFAA first by reducing its length and implications as well as making the law more coherent to ordinary people.

Another provision of the “2012 Cloud Computing Act” is its required publication of annual progress reports by federal agencies which move to the clouds. It also requires such agencies to update the goals as prescribed in the “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy” which was printed in February 2011 by the Office of Management and Budget. As a backgrounder, the bill was delayed because Senator Orrin Hatch withdrew his support on the bill sponsored by Senator Klobuchar. The bill was filed at the Senate By Senator Klobuchar and Senator John Hoeven and forwarded to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

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