UK census contractor says data privacy laws will have to change

By Derek du Preez
02 Mar 2011 View Comments
Houses of Parliament at night

The UK government's G-Cloud initiative will never reach its full potential because it is hamstrung by data privacy laws, according to officials from Lockheed Martin, the US arms and aerospace manufacturer commissioned to administer the UK 2011 census.

"We need to be clear that legislation is an impediment," Melvin Greer, chief strategist for Lockheed Martin, the largest provider of cloud services to the US government, told the audience at IBM Pulse.

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In the UK and Europe, data privacy laws prevent the movement of data outside the jurisdiction, which is the antithesis of the multi-tenancy concept of cloud computing, said Greer.

Privacy and confidentiality will continue to be a problem for the UK's G-Cloud unless legislation catches up with the cloud, according to Greer.

"What is lagging behind of course is the legislation. Security is a technical thing, but privacy and confidentiality are legal things," he said.

The legislation must change, said Greer.

"Governments should all be updating their laws if they aren't already. What they will do, including the UK, is update the laws so that the necessary framework to protect their citizens from being exposed to cloud computing, by having their data being put in the cloud, is in place," he added.

Protesters in the UK have urged citizens to boycott the census because of Lockheed Martin's involvement in the arms trade.

Lockheed Martin's advertising slogan is: "We never forget who we are working for".

All governments face similar problems and consequently will adopt hybrid models, Greer predicted.

"Part of the reason is that traditional IT solutions that we deliver today are not going to go away. This is especially true for governments where hybrid models will always be core," said Greer.

"You will certainly see companies in a commercial environment moving entirely to the cloud, but in government you will always see a variety of different deployment models being used."

Greer blames this on legacy systems as well as security.

"Governments have an embedded IT infrastructure, and they have been spending lots of money on their IT delivery systems," he said.

"It is not reasonable to assume governments will abandon these in a wholesale fashion. It is far more reasonable to see hybrid cloud models being used.

"Security is the number one impediment for governments though.

"This of course is more of a conversation around privacy and confidentiality. The UK government and the G-Cloud initiative will have to deal with the concept of having a secure infrastructure because of this," he added.



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