Sunday, November 28, 2010

Privacy in the cloud for Canadian universities

This past week, I was invited to speak at the annual get-together of The Canadian University Council of CIOs (CUCCIO) in Toronto on the topic of cloud computing. Many universities in Canada are struggling with the legal and privacy issues of adopting cloud computing, particularly when Google and Microsoft are both offering very attractive (and free!) offerings that would relieve universities of the costs and burdens of administering student and alumni e-mail.

Universities in Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia are particularly hampered by legislation that was designed to thwart the boogeyman represented by the USA Patriot Act.

BC and Nova Scotia have each adopted legislation that either categorically prohibits the "export" of personal information by public bodies, or put in place administrative hurdles. Alberta joins this pack by making it an offense under their public sector privacy law to disclose personal information in response to a "foreign demand for disclosure".

Part of the problem is that the legal framework is not particularly nuanced, as each decision about whether to outsource a service should be guided by a detailed risk assessment and privacy impact assessment instead of ham-fisted categorical rules that don't take particular circumstances into account.

Here is my presentation, which was well received.

If the embedded slideshow isn't showing you the love, click here: