July 27, 2017

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Hi Eli,

As we know, the law is often very slow at catching up to fast paced industries, of which technology is no exception. Cloud computing has been around for years, but we are just now seeing legislation and regulation catch up to it.

In January of this year, the US President signed an Executive Order, which in part said “Sec. 14.  Privacy Act.  Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.” (full order can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/25/presidential-executive-order-enhancing-public-safety-interior-united )

Canada has always had a special relationship with the United States and we’ve always been given some extra protections when it comes to privacy, despite not being US citizens. Traditionally this has helped with things like storing Canadian data in the United States. Now we have this Executive Order, coupled with increasing regulations on the Canadian side when it comes to personal private data (particularly in the medical field).

My question is, what is your take on regulatory and legislative issues having a negative impact on the adoption of cloud technology outside of the United States ?

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I would say this order may have been signed in January, but I’ve noticed with my website clients that those outside the USA have insisted that their sites and especially databases be hosted locally to their home countries since 9/11, funny part is I’ve never thought of Canada as a foreign client (beyond the currency) and to spite Trump’s bolstering I don’t see that changing our congress can’t agree on simple things let alone turning on our closest alley (literally)

As far as medical records go, the Exec order would fall short against our HIPA laws which are as close to iron-clad as American law gets. I mean just look at Trump’s presidency since Jan, Supreme court really hasn’t agreed at all with him on a single topic and no sign of change on the horizon.

Final thought of why legislation is so slow in America, look at our Congress they should all be retired, so forget legislation they don’t even understand it, and that won’t change until Congress gets term limits.

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It could give incentive for cloud providers to build data centers in other countries, or existing local providers to improve their SLA, which is a good thing (latency and exchange rate!!). I too operate in Canada. Even before this legislation my client already has been pressured to store their customer data in Canada only. Its a very small business so its not like it alone influenced this, but I heard that enough requests to do so pressured Microsoft to open Azure and Office 365 data centers in Toronto and Quebec https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/sites/datacentre/default.aspx

There is also OVH, a lower cost competitor, who is headquartered in France, but wants global presence so is building data centers all over, including Quebec, so I started using them. (SLA is what you pay for)

Prior to this pressure, it seemed as if unless you live in US, you will always be at mercy of high latency and exchange rate. I will take every opportunity to whine about exchange rate: I think it has more or at least equally negative impact on cloud adoption. Hosting providers just push more data centers in US without care about rest of the world (Linode, Digital Ocean).

Local providers, including same OVH, would have really terrible SLA. If local hosts become primary choice instead of US ones, they will have to improve their services. Another positive.

Now someone needs to expand to Russia (or for Russia to take over the world with their hosting providers 😀 ). Right now hosting availability map there is frighteningly empty for when I go back there.

So overall, policies will be a pain point but potentially bring benefits.