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In debate

Who owns the data?

A major concern of customers wishing to use the cloud is who will own their data?

This is made even more complicated if multiple bodies are involved. If you give your data to a cloud provider who then outsources its work to another storage or process provider, who’s responsible if your information is lost or damaged?

Ownership rights are generally covered by three areas of law - copyright, confidentiality and contract – which all differ depending on the country. So if data is created in one country, but then stored in another the legal rules that apply become blurred.

Essentially there are two types of data in the cloud. Data that is created beforehand and put onto the cloud, and data that is created in the cloud itself. We could assume that data created beforehand should belong to the creator, thanks to copyright law. However data created in the cloud, either by the client or the provider is a different story. Deciding who owns the content here will depend on will both the type of information and, to some extent, on where it was generated.

Unsurprisingly this topic is fraught with questions which may only become clearer as cloud computing develops further. Experts at the Cloud Legal Project, at Queen Mary University of London are trying to produce practical guides to address many of these legal issues. You can read more about their work here. You can read more about their work here.

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