Laws around the world allow governments free access to data on the Cloud which may come as a surprise to many, but Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) facilitate cooperation across international boundaries. On May 23, 2012 Hogan Lovells published a White Paper entitled “A Global Reality: Government Access to Data in the Cloud” which includes this summary of conclusions:

On the fundamental question of governmental access to data in the Cloud, we conclude, based on the research underlying this White Paper, that it is not possible to isolate data in the Cloud from governmental access based on the physical location of the Cloud service provider or its facilities. Government’s ability to access data in the Cloud extends across borders. And it is incorrect to assume that the United States government’s access to data in the Cloud is greater than that of other advanced economies.

The White Paper makes this observation that the US Patriot Act, which many think is pretty tough:

…our survey finds that even European countries with strict privacy laws also have anti-terrorism laws that allow expedited government access to Cloud data. As one observer put it, France’s anti-terrorism laws make the Patriot Act look "namby-pamby" by comparison.

The analysis of the MLATs in the White Paper continues with details about the following countries: US, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

More businesses should be aware of these privacy laws to avoid false expectations about privacy on the Cloud!

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