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Alibaba makes data protection pledge to Aliyun cloud users

Chinese cloud firm makes data protection promises, as it gears up for overseas expansion

Aliyun, the cloud computing arm of Chinese internet firm Alibaba, has issued a three-point data protection pact to allay user fears about entrusting their information to the company.

The statement aims to assure potential users of the Aliyun platform that they will retain the right to “freely and safely” access, share, transfer and delete any data they decide to store in its cloud.

Furthermore, the company said customers have the right to stipulate how their data is processed, and that Aliyun has no right to alter or transfer it in anyway.

The final point of the pact sets out Aliyun’s obligations when it comes to keeping the data stored in its cloud safe, which centres on the delivery of threat protection and disaster recovery tools.

“It is the responsibility and duty of Alibaba Cloud Computing [Aliyun] to establish a set of strict management, control and internal audit systems, as well as strive to continuously improve our threat protection, disaster recovery and other capabilities to strengthen the protection we offer to customers regarding data privacy, integrity and accessibility,” the company said in a statement.

While 1.4 million people in China reportedly already use Alibaba’s cloud services, the company has been making a concerted effort to court overseas users by announcing plans to open datacentres in the US and Europe.

The pact appears to have been announced as a follow on to the plans and as a means of building trust in a cloud platform most users are unlikely to have heard of outside of China.

Simon Hu, president of Aliyun, announced the pledge at the company’s inaugural Data Technology Day in Beijing on 22 July 2015, where he said it was proof of its commitment to honouring the data privacy of its customers.

“We aim to make cloud computing the engine of the data technology economy, and big data a driving force of economic development,” he said.

“Aliyun will continuously be committed to building a cloud computing ecosystem to efficiently and securely serve global clients,” he added.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Bob Tarzey, analyst and director at IT market watcher Quocirca, said it will take more than Aliyun’s three-point pledge and some far-off plans to open local datacentres to convince users to adopt its cloud.

“The issue here is control. When it comes to corporate data storage, Amazon Web Services [AWS] has infrastructure in Europe, which means European businesses can reasonably overcome concerns they may have about using AWS to store data,” said Tarzey.

“However, it is going to take a lot for European businesses to be confident about using a China-based cloud storage service, given the reputation Chinese organisations have for stealing intellectual property,” he said.

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