Kundra: Cloud computing data sovereignty a matter for 'international law'

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Cloud computing adoption at federal agencies is no longer a question of "if," said Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

Critics of the "cloud first" initiative should embrace change and address issues that still need work, charged Kundra while speaking April 7 at a cloud computing forum at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md.

"Some people have overly dramatized the challenges," he said, while acknowledging that data sovereignty is a legitimate challenge.

"It's not going to be a question of technology. [Data sovereignty] is going to be a question of international law, and treaties that we will need to engage in the coming years," said Kundra.

"We've got a very diverse interpretation and a very diverse perspective when it comes to privacy or international security, if you look at our neighbors--Canada or Mexico--versus what's happening in the European Union," he said.

The United States, European Union and the World Economic Forum are currently discussing data storage across international boundaries and attempting to reach security and privacy norms, said Kundra. Still, he added, coming to a consensus will "require a lot of hard work."

Dave McClure, associate administrator at the General Services Administration's office of citizen services and innovative technologies recently said that data sovereignty remains the biggest issue for agencies participating in cloud computing working groups. He added that it is not GSA's role to set standards and advise on what service level agreements will best suit particular agencies.

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