They were talking about a service they use that provides board members with the documents they need to prepare for board meetings. Here is the story.
The supplier Diligent, is a US firm, but because of the Patriots Act its customers don't want data stored in the US. As a result it keeps the information on servers in Canada.
The Patriot Act basically means that information stored on servers in the US can be accessed by the government if it requires. Obviously confidential data is confidential and businesses will not want their data to come under the prying eyes of the US government.
A couple of years ago one of my contacts believed the Patriot Act would have a huge impact on the outsourcing sector in the US. I haven't seen much but a couple of meeting I have had recently have mentioned it.
But is it really that much of a worry? I mean any sovereign state could introduce a similar law if it wanted, so nowhere would be safe. And US datacentres are pretty secure and less risky than those in unstable countries. So the risks of the US government spying on you have to be balanced with other factors such as political stability and the threat of theft or attack.
In today's IT world a huge amount of information is either stored or backed up offshore. "In fact, the actual impact of the Patriot Act in [the] cloud context is negligible," according to this article.
I was hoping to get feedback on this blog so please comment.