This is a commentary of a singular staff member or associated researcher of our institute. It does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Alexander of Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society.
Do You Need a Law Degree to Use the European Cloud?
by Dr. Osvaldo Saldias
“You shouldn’t have to have a law degree to use the cloud. But today, many potential users think it’s too complicated, too risky, or too untrustworthy”, asserted the European Commission in a press statement released two weeks ago, 27 September 2012.
According to the EU Commission, there is much in stake in relation to this technology that European firms should go for. If Europe manages to use the potential of cloud computing to its benefit, it will render a “net gain of 2.5 million new European jobs, and an annual boost of EUR 160 billion to EU GDP (around 1%), by 2020.”
The message is clear: the EU needs a Digital Single Market; and it needs it now!
Some US consultancy firms, however, suggest that the EU Cloud is allegedly lagging behind the US Cloud because of “European privacy rules, multicountry business processes, a deep euro crisis and a lingering recession”. You can find the information here.
It is true that European integration has been driven by the establishment of a single market, and that much of the strength comes form the harmonization of legislation of the member states. It is equally true, however, that along the last five decades the EU’s has earned credibility thanks to its commitment to legal principles. The first German president of the European Commission, Walter Hallstein, stated in 1962 that the European Community should be regarded as “a creation of Law, a source of Law, and the realization of Law”.
In the race towards the Digital Single Market, we should not forget that cloud regulation is a legitimate instrument for boosting the job market and the industry; but it is also the realization of a deep commitment to the idea of a Community of Law. I don’t regard these ideas as incompatible at all.
So it seems to me that the answer is no; you don’t need a law degree to use the European cloud, just as you don’t need a law degree to participate in the European Single Market. And yet, a European Digital Single Market will not be the mere product of loose ad-hoc policies; it is already being shaped by multiple European actors, like for instance, the European Court of Justice, as you can see in the case Oracle v. Usedsoft, where the Court reasserted the principle of the Autonomy of European Law in the market for second-hand software.
At the Alexander von Humboldt Institute on Internet & Society we are currently examining matters that are fundamental to a Digital Single Market. We will debate the implications of the proposal for a new EU privacy regulation in our conference “Data Protection in the 21st Century” jointly organized with the German Ministry of Interior Affairs.
We’ll be looking forward to seeing you there.