Several players want to brief MPs and candidates on Cloud Computing. Why should politicians be interrested? Is it any more than the global data centres of Google and IBM and Microsoft outflanking those of EDS and Fujitsu? Who is willing to address the political issues of responsibility for resilience and content and liability for service failure or abuse?
If they really do believe that Cloud Computing is for real, the culmination of a decade long transition to time-shifted load- balancing across the world aNetworks with end-users as dependent on their broadband connection as their local PC, are they ready for the consequences?
Are they content to have the same law on-line as off-line – with their liability avoidance small print struck down by courts around the world and their business-to-business disputes settled by those who police global business in the off-line world (from the scrivenor-notaries, through organisations like Den Norsk Veritas and CEDR)?
Or are they confident that by moving everything off-shore they can outflank all the national regulators queuing up for a slice of the action and also agree liability avoidance contracts with the global multi-nationals, from Aerospace, through Freight Forwarding and Financial Services to Pharmaceuticals and Petro-chemicals?
In that context I was struck by a juxtaposition of the comments of a BPI spokesman quoted by the BBC in their story ISP in file-sharing wi-fi theft that “ultimately, householders will be held to account for what happens on their own networks” and an advert in yesterday’s Times for “complete protection against on-line scams” for £23.99.
Meanwhile the scripts used by the staff of the call centres of India deny the existance of legal protections to UK customers under the Consumer Credit Act and Direct Debit guarantee and tell you to contact who-ever made the mistake (or committed the fraud). It would appear you now have to make a formal complaint and be ready to sue in order to exercise your rights.
This led me to ponder on the provisional conclusion at the end of my last blog. “Is Statutory Internet Regulation Inevitable?” It still think it is the adults, not the children, who are living on fantasy island. I would add that the fantasists include many of the IPR lawyers, domain name registrars, corporate counsel, sales and marketing staff and lobbyists of the Internet industry.
Unfortunately they are busy sabotaging the bridges and boats that would allow the rest of us to escape to the mainland.
The time has come for users of all ages to call on politicians to ensure that the same law really does apply on-line as off-line – and that the creeping erosion of consumers rights, not just responsibilities, is stopped – not just in court by those who can afford it.
I fear that only then will the industry’ strategic thinkers and corporate planners fully appreciate that they are expediting a process of replacing the consumer and customer confidence they need, in order to make money, by hierarchies of tick-box compliance and legal fiction that will ultimately destroy their margins.
Meanwhile the transition of “traditional” ways of doing global business to new technologies is bypassing them on both flanks. My local high street has “branches” of at least six global “transaction services” running over a mix of mobile technologies and VOIP. I am pretty certain that their combined turnover is well in excess of that of the two surviving bank branches. In parallel the teenagers have started transitioning to Indian and Chinese-based web services to get better prices for what they are willing to pay for over the net.