Who’s Responsible for Data in the Cloud.

While trawling through the internet i came accross an a couple of articles that made me think, about

The first one was on the bbc technology site and it talked about cloud computing and the US Patriot Act, this is similar to the UK’s anti terrorism legislation and as far as i can see it gives the US government the right to look at data stored in the states if they think that it might include information about terrorists.

You might me thinking, well what does that have to do with me i’m not an american, so what if the americans can look at data within their own country. But what you have to remember is that many many services like amazons S3 data storage, hotmail, skydrive and gmail are all hosted in the states, so any data stored on these is covered by the Patriot Act.

What’s i bet that if they really wanted to they could make these laws extend to any data travelling through there network, so if you send an email, a twitter message, a file or any other string on ones and zeros and its routed through the us or any ther country they would be at liberty to read that information, and use it to whatever purpose they saw fit.

This got me to thinking as a system administrator, if i’m storing data in the states and viewing it on terminals in the Uk, do i need to adhere to both the Uk’s data protection Act and any american version of the same act, or does the data protection act only apply to data held on citizen of a particular country, if so do what laws do i have to adhere to if i have a mailing list which contains data from people in several different countries.

The second artical i came accross was something on tech crunch about a German Politician, that had a legal ruling made to prohibit the local german version of wikipedia from accessing information on the main wikipedia database in miami.

The focus of my thoughts here really is were does responsability lie if an english company say has a website hosted in the US, but bought and paid for in the UK, and you want to take them to stop them from false advertising, do you persue the Uk company, or the US isp hosting their data? And what if for example the banner ads you object to on the site as simply embedded links to data on a video server in say germany. In fact the whole area of links seems quite complicated, if you for example display an rss on your site from elsewhere on the internet and they say something that is could be slanderous are you also guilty of slander and howdoes this work across borders, i mean something may be deemed slanderous in one country but not another. There was talk yesterday that the german politicians background in the german police was protected under german law, but does that extend outside of germany.

what are you thaughts on this?

Who’s Responsible for Data in the Cloud.

German Politician Blocks Local Wikipedia

Techcrunch reported today that German Politician Lutz Heilmann, has taken legal action in the county court of Luebeck (North Germany) resulting in them issuing an order preventing the German Wikipedia (Wikimedia e.V.) from linking its domain wikipedia.de to the Web site wikipedia.org, as long as the German language version of wikipedia.org makes certain statements.

According to OhMyNews these statements include Heilmann’s past as a member of the police in East Germany – as well as allegations that he has threatened an ex-boyfriend, Focus Online suggested that Heilmann objected to claims that he had interrupted his studies at university, and that he had participated in a business venture involving pornography.

What this shows is that while being a Politician may have given the Heilmann the power to order a local german version of the free online public contribution encyclopedia site to remove its links to the main database, it did not give him the power to shutdown the parent site wikipedia.org which is hosted in miami. Furthermore taking such drastic action drew even more attention to the entry, currently ranked number 1 on wikirage. But was he right t take legal action? There is currently a lot of web chatter about the rights and wrongs of this court action and about the rights to freedom of speach versus the wrongs of slander and liable. Its interesting to see that the views on “freedom of speach” vary so widely between nations and  raises some very interesting questions about the need to have some universal laws in a world so connected by the internet.

I guess that given the nature of wikipedia, we should maybe be more surprised that this isn’t happening more often. While wikipedia can be a fantastic source of information and in the main is quite accurate, it was been criticised by many academic institutions for often being inaccurate and not being what they would consider to be a good and reliable source of information. Some institutions and local authorities have gone as far as to banned it on on their networks.

Heilmann has now issued a statement saying that because the offending remarks have been removed no further action is required, and the connection between the german version of wikipedia and wikipedia.org will soon be restored.

German Politician Blocks Local Wikipedia