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Cloud storage players promise more transparency

Some of the big names in consumer cloud storage have pledged to make their terms and conditions more transparent in a move that will be watched by channel CSPs

Ever since it started life the Cloud Industry Forum was telling g those in the channel pitching hosted services to be transparent about what they could offer.

The industry lobby group argued that if customers could have more confidence in their suppliers then more would make the move to the cloud.

It seems the CIF was not alone in wanting those selling cloud to be more open about exactly what they are selling and the government has also been keen to see things improve.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has worked with BT, Google, Doprbox and Mozy to make sure that those buying cloud storage from the suppliers are made more aware of changes to service.

Along with security one of the ongoing concerns about cloud has been the lock-in and subsequent power that the supplies have to dictate terms to users.

Although on the consumer side of things cloud providers will be taking note of the CMA action, which has managed to get certain guarantees out of the companies that will protect customers (see box), and making sure they offer the same standards to business customers.

Service guarantees

The CMA has worked with BT, Google, Dropbox and Mozy to get them to agree to the following:

* Guaranteeing adequate notice is given before any significant adverse changes are made to the price, service or contract

* ensuring customers are given clearer information about how they can cancel if they don’t want to accept proposed changes, and when and how they can get refunds

* limiting the circumstances in which companies can suspend or cancel the service

* increasing transparency and giving notice before companies automatically renew fixed-term contracts​

Niche Arora, CMA senior director for consumer enforcement, said that people increasingly relied on cloud storage, “so it is vital that they are treated fairly and are not hit by unexpected changes to price or storage levels”.

“We want to ensure that companies treat their customers fairly and comply with consumer law; those that don’t are at risk of enforcement action,” she added .

The CMA has also published an open letter to businesses advising them of their obligations, as well as a short video and a giving some advice about who to choose the right service.

The CMA has been pushing the message for fairness in cloud storage provision this year and has developed online resources to help suppliers ensure they stay on the right side of the law.

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