Solon questions gov?t use of offshore cloud

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[/caption] Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teddy Casi?o, author of House Resolution 2141, urged the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to study the repercussions of allowing off-shore facilities to have access to data that should otherwise be secured because of its private and sovereign nature. Casi?o said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) sealed their partnership with IP Converge Data Center, the local re-seller of Google Apps and other cloud-based office productivity tools in January 2012. Casi?o said while the DBM should be lauded for paving the way for government utilization of cloud services, Congress should consider the implications of using a cloud service based in another country. ?DBM had the option but decided not to tap Philippine-based cloud infrastructure service providers during the bidding for their ?Web-based enterprise e-mail application?. The agency, apparently, did not consider the problem of having sensitive data, especially private exchanges through e-mail, accessible to foreign governments,? Casi?o said. According to Casi?o, cloud computing is the practice of providing applications not as products but as a service wherein shared resources and software are made available to multiple computers through a network. ?Instead of purchasing and installing office applications for each and every computer used by an organization or business, cloud users can easily access the applications through a web browser or a light weight desktop program,? Casi?o said. ?This makes software updating and file sharing faster and easier. It also keeps computers from being bogged down with applications and files. Because of its efficiency and practicality, there is no need to buy expensive application installers or hire technicians,? Casi?o said. Casi?o said cloud computing is now considered as one of the most viable information and technology (IT) services in the market today. In fact, the United States Federal Government had already instituted a ?Cloud First policy,? prioritizing cloud alternatives to various desktop-based applications. Casi?o said having data with US-based providers or even subsidiaries of any US-headquartered company is especially risky since the USA Patriot Act otherwise known as the ?Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001,? gives the US government power to access private data from American companies, including IT service providers, some of which are handling outsourced data from various countries. Casi?o added that this has led to various legal actions on the part of the Canadian government to protect their citizens from prying eyes of the US government. ?Just last year, Microsoft?s United Kingdom head admitted that the Patriot Act allows access to their Europe-based cloud data,? he said. ?Google itself has revealed in its transparency report that it has complied with 93 percent of the 5,950 user data requests from the US government. It states that it regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to remove content from their services and hand over user data,? Casi?o said.]]>

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