Policy Documents

Privacy in the Clouds

Robert Gellman –
June 16, 2011

This report discusses the issue of cloud computing and outlines its implications for the privacy of personal information as well as its implications for the confidentiality of business and governmental information. The report finds that for some information and for some business users, sharing may be illegal, may be limited in some ways, or may affect the status or protections of the information shared. The report discusses how even when no laws or obligations block the ability of a user to disclose information to a cloud provider, disclosure may still not be free of consequences. The report finds that information stored by a business or an individual with a third party may have fewer or weaker privacy or other protections than information in the possession of the creator of the information. The report, in its analysis and discussion of relevant laws, finds that both government agencies and private litigants may be able to obtain information from a third party more easily than from the creator of the information. A cloud provider’s terms of service, privacy policy, and location may significantly affect a user’s privacy and confidentiality interests.