Microsoft Seeking Stronger Laws Regarding Cloud Computing

No doubt spurred in part by the ongoing federal FCC/ FTC hearings on bringing the internet into the 21st century and dealing with security gaps in the cloud, Microsoft put in its request to Congress and state governments to firm up the legal framework for ensuring stratospheric privacy and protection. Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith addressed attendees on these issues at a keynote at the Brookings Institute on January 19, 2010.

Microsoft identified the primary concerns as privacy, security, transparency, and international sovereignty, the latter being a major issue in connection with storage server locations that know no boundaries. Transparency means that consumers and businesses should know whether and how their information will be accessed and used by service providers and how it will be protected online.

Smith is justifiably concerned with privacy protections and the fact that laws currently on the books do not take into account the heightened risk and the broader ramifications of hacking in the cloud. Smith proposed a new law, which he dubbed the Cloud Computing Advancement Act, and urged the revamping of an existing law,  the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, in order to address the spectrum of risks. He also proposed stronger sanctions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: currently, cloud hackers face the same penalties as hackers that attack an individual PC.

I see mass movement into the cloud and, as a techie,  I understand the value of it. As attorneys, however, it pays to be aware of what our current technology can ensure with respect to privacy and security, be versed on the scope of the laws supporting cloud integrity, and choose cloud services accordingly. Lawyers, or course, have heightened responsibility with respect to privacy, security, and privilege. Perhaps this is one area of technology in which lawyers can afford to be slightly behind the curve – right behind security developments.

Hat tip to eWeek. For further reading on the topic, check out these articles:

The ABC’s of Cloud Based Practice Tools

 Seeding the Clouds: Key Infrastructure Elements of Cloud Computing

A Pragmatic and Effective Approach to Cloud Computing — Real Benefits From the

IBM Perspective on Cloud Computing

HIPAA and Beyond: Meeting New Healthcare Security Requirements for Email

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Massachusetts Authority

I am here in Massachusetts and, therefore, have a predisposition for an interest in Massachusetts authority and general information. Fortunately, the Massachusetts courts and agencies have not been sitting idly by while the Internet revolution explodes around them. Here are a few information gems:

  1. The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries include information from 17 public law libraries across Massachusetts. There are subject entries on such over 100 topics, including the more popular entries of auto insurance, foreclosure, health insurance, landlord-tenant, potholes, same-sex marriage, smoking and a blog about Massachusetts law. There are Massachusetts and Federal forms provided, at no charge. There are links to podcasts of interest, including one on Massachusetts DUI news. Various statutes and regulations are included, such as Massachusetts laws, Federal laws, links for laws from other states and links for foreign and international laws. Cases can also be found via links: for cases 1972-1996, the cite includes information by citation, name, or through a Google site search. Although not complete collection, the site also includes hundreds of often-cited earlier cases. There is a blog featuring updates on Massachusetts law. You can even chat with a law librarian!
  2. The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly includes links for free full text opinions from the Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court cases from 1997 to current. Summaries are available from 1993. There are other resources available on the site for non-subscribers and it is well worth perusing the pages and links.
  3. Beginning in September, 2007, the Massachusetts Appellate court site began making available briefs filed in most cases scheduled to be argued before the Supreme Judicial Court shortly before the sitting. Hyperlinks to the briefs may be found on the Case Docket pages, just above the Docket Entries.
  4. The Board of Bar Overseers and Office of the Bar Counsel also maintain a site full of helpful information. There is a list of upcoming public hearings. You can search for an attorney by name or city and see his or her status. There is a link to relevant rules including the Rules of Professional Conduct, Canon of Ethics, procedural rules of the Supreme Judicial Court, and rules of the Board of Bar Overseers.
  5. Interested in a case before the Supreme Judicial Court, but cannot make the date for oral argument? Suffolk University Law School, in conjunction with the Court, has made available webcasts of oral arguments. The archives go back to September, 2005. There are minimum system requirements, as well as the need for Windows Media Player, which are outlined on the page.
  6. Here is a handy organizational chart for the Massachusetts court system.
  7. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue very kindly provides on-line access to forms and other information at its own website. There are also news and reports provided on various public information under the auspices of the DOR, including DOR press releases. The DOR also publishes tax guides as general resources regarding Massachusetts law, policies and procedures.
  8. The Massachusetts Legislature maintains a website which lists the legislators, legislation, the laws, the committees, the journals and the calendars of the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives. There is a great outline of lawmaking in Massachusetts, complete with a glossary of terms.
  9. This is a great listing of all Massachusetts state agencies, arranged alphabetically.
  10. All you ever wanted to know about the Massachusetts economy can be found at MassBenchmarks, a quarterly journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and managed by the Institute’s Economic and Public Policy Research unit. Based on census data, the site includes information concerning the performance of and prospects for the Massachusetts economy, including periodic economic analyses of major geographic regions within the Commonwealth and an array of key industries that make up the economic base of the state. The journal also provides commentary and interpretation of economic data aimed at business and labor leaders, public policy makers and the general public.

As the reader can probably imagine, this is not an exhaustive list. For the researcher or general information junkie, however, this should provide many hours of entertainment. Enjoy!