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Motion 2: Team 1 takes the position that cloud computing presents more risks than actual benefits for Internet users

Cloud Computing is a paradigm in which information is permanently stored in servers on the Internet and cached temporarily in client storage. Texts, videos, e-mails and applications will be stored and operated on the Internet, not in the physical memory of an individual user's computer. Many companies are interested in cloud computing as a potential solution to computer and storage capacity constraints. From a business standpoint, cloud computing is a useful way to extend IT’s capabilities without the necessity to invest in new infrastructure, personnel and licensing.

Nevertheless, cloud computing is a controversial topic, raising several types of issues:

a) Geopolitical issues. If information is power, then States may be unconformable with the storage of massive amounts of information about and belonging to its citizens in the "international" cloud.
b) Juridical issues. As the documents and applications will possibly be stored in a server outside of the legal boundaries of a State, they may subject to a distinct set of norms and jurisdictions. How will these be established?
c) Privacy concerns. A cloud provider’s terms of service, privacy policy, and location may significantly affect a user’s privacy and confidentiality interests. Is privacy for online stored material covered under any law? Whose law? Which law? Some argue that there is a lower "expectation of privacy" when the information is stored in the cloud.

Does cloud computing represent a breakthrough in terms of technological improvement? What are the real benefits for Internet users? Can privacy and data protection be enforced? Can cloud service providers be held liable and be accountable to users?

Share your views about this topic, which is becoming extremely important to Internet users’ lives -- to YOUR life!

Views: 124

Replies to This Discussion

We won't be alone discussing claud computing, although I think our question is better. Here is the link http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/409
And here is the outcome of the Economist debate:
http://www.economist.com/debate/overview/157
Report - Diplo IG debates 2009

The first one affirmed that cloud computing brings more threats than actual benefits for Internet users.

Subhodeep Kundu took the position against the motion. He stressed the importance of the potential for scalability and the power of the Cloud for increasing collaboration. He also mentioned the cost saving, possible through the sharing of resources. All the current problems related to cloud computing are temporary and cloud computing is not an entire novelty; it is only an extension of a current practice of using data and communication networks.

Bernard Sadaka disagreed and said that some factors hamper the development of cloud computing, such as: the need for high bandwidth, the uneven quality of services across different geographical regions and security and privacy concerns. According to him, this has to be dealt with before we move to cloud computing.

In the end, the vote was strongly in favour of the motion.
I have just came accross an interesting speech by Viviane Reding in which she mentions the importance of cloud computing for small and medium enterprises and for climate change.

3. My third priority for boosting the digital economy is: Europe's digital economy should be opened up to small businesses. In Europe, we have 23 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which make up 99% of all firms. Accounting for over 100 million jobs, SMEs can be the mainspring of Europe's economic resurgence. But in the use of productivity-boosting ICT tools, SMEs lag substantially behind big firms: only 9% of SMEs use electronic invoices, and only 11% of them have technology-based human resource management. If SMEs could access computing power over the web, they would no longer need to buy and maintain technologies or IT applications and services. Such web based services – called "cloud computing" – are the medicine needed for our credit squeezed economy: they can make businesses more productive by shifting from fixed costs (i.e. hiring staff or buying PCs) to variable costs (i.e. you only pay for what you use). However, today these new services are nearly all US-owned and US-based. Once again, the US has started to exploit a business model before Europe has managed to do so. We cannot let this continue. In my view, we need a major effort to set up Europe-hosted "clouds" to give European SMEs access to fast, open and productivity enhancing services. A recent study estimated that online business services could add 0.2% to annual GDP growth, create a million new jobs and allow hundreds of thousand of new SMEs to take off in Europe over the next five years. So what are we waiting for?

4. My fourth priority for Digital Europe is: making better use of innovative ICT solutions to meet our objectives of a low-carbon economy . This aspect is still neglected in our ongoing work to prepare with ambition for the Copenhagen Conference at the end of the year. Just consider the following: If businesses in Europe were to replace only 20% of all business trips by video conferencing, we could save more than 22 million tons of CO 2 per year. And cloud computing could, by helping to improve the efficiency of IT solutions, lead to electricity savings in computing activity of up to 80%. Let us also not forget what ICT could do for safer, smarter and greener cars in Europe. I firmly believe that Digital Europe cannot afford to turn a blind eye to its ecological potential, which in turn can open up new business opportunities for European ICT companies.

Source: REDING, Viviane. Digital Europe. Europe´s fast track to Economic Recovery. The Ludwig Erhard Lecture 2009, Lisbon Council, Brussels, 9 July 2009. Available at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/09/336

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