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Cloud Computing and Internet Governance

Posted by Patrick Ryan, Policy Counsel, Open Internet and Sarah Falvey, Sr. Policy Analyst

We recently returned from the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Nairobi, Kenya with Vint Cerf and several others to talk about the future of the Internet, with more than 2,000 representatives from 125 governments, civil society, academia, and private industry in attendance. We hosted a panel on Putting your Trust in the Clouds, and we participated in other workshops and showcased our economic studies on the value of the Internet to economies worldwide. The IGF isn’t just a conference; it was set up by the United Nations as the primary place for governments, civil society and the private sector to discuss the future of the Internet.

This year, one of the hottest topics was cloud computing. Attendees increasingly showed an understanding that the “cloud” and the Internet are intertwined -- changes to one ultimately impacts the other. We recently detailed the same principles discussed at IGF in a paper presented to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, where we also outlined some principles for cloud regulation.

We're encouraged that participants at the IGF are increasingly realizing that regulation of the cloud and regulation of the Internet are essentially the same thing. After all, cloud computing involves almost any two-way interaction between users and computers, and it's virtually impossible to regulate cloud computing without regulating the Internet itself. Legislation in any country that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to the cloud (and thus, the Internet) is not the solution. A lighter touch can help promote innovation while allowing users to take advantage of reduced costs.