ACMA calls for cloud code of conduct

Conditions for good self-regulation exist in Australia, says consumer watchdog

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has come out in favour of a cloud computing code of conduct, arguing that it will improve consumer confidence in service providers.

In a new paper entitled The cloud: services, computing and digital data- Emerging issues in media and communications, the consumer advocacy group said that while there have been attempts to encourage self-regulation -- such as the Australian Communications Consumers Action Network (ACCAN) guide for cloud providers on consumer protection principles -- a code of conduct has yet to be developed.

“In part, this may be a reflection of the diverse nature of the participants and small number of cloud providers with data centres based in Australia,” read the paper.

According to ACMA, the markers for successful self-regulation are a common industry interest, competitive market, few barriers to entry and a changing environment.

“Many of the conditions for effective self-regulatory responses are present in the cloud market in Australia,” read the report.

“As barriers to the adoption of cloud services become more pressing in Australia, it is likely that there will be a more compelling case for industry-led responses to standards, data protection and security.”

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ACMA research conducted in 2013 entitled Digital Footprints and Digital Identities found that 52 per cent of Australians had a low level of confidence in the privacy settings of online providers including cloud service companies. A further 35 per cent of Australians would withhold personal information if a website was not based in Australia.

“Addressing consumer and business concerns about privacy and data management practices will be important in boosting overall confidence in the use of cloud services,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said.

In order to address concerns, this was likely to require further action from both industry and government, he said.

In May, communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy launched the federal government’s national cloud computing strategy and encouraged industry to establish a voluntary cloud consumer protocol to outline agreed industry best practice.

He said development of the protocol will by spearheaded by the Australian Computer Society.

The government will also push for the development of cloud standards to promote interoperability between services from different providers.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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