January 17, 2010    /    by

Google - China Situation Has State & Local Implications

The world-wide media was full of stories this week regarding the Google situation in China. Articles ranged from the Global Implications of Google's ...

The world-wide media was full of stories this week regarding the Google situation in China. Articles ranged from the Global Implications of Google's Stand to a new perspective on Global Net Intrigue. There is no denying that this is a potential Internet game-changer in many ways that go way beyond just security and hacking challenges we all face over the next decade.

 But I"d like to point out a few related issues that may not be immediately evident. For example, what implications might this announcement have for cloud computing and/or Offshore Outsourcing?

I found it very interesting that Google immediately defended cloud computing after the attacks. This defense seemed almost too quick. Check out this quote:

 "(Google Chief Legal Officer David) Drummond said the attack on Google's corporate infrastructure resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google, though he declined to specify what the hackers stole. 
  

However, he also said the accounts of dozens of Gmail users in the U.S., Europe and China who are advocates of human rights in China were routinely accessed by third parties. Drummond stressed that these accounts were compromised through phishing scams or malware, not through holes in Google's computing infrastructure. This is a key point.

Google's hosts data from search, Gmail and other collaboration programs that comprise Google Apps for millions of consumers on thousands of servers in data centers all over the world as part of a cloud computing model. When a Google user triggers a request from his or her computer, it speeds to these servers, looking for a response."

 The article goes on to quote Drummand as he defended the Google security controls as well as cloud computing as a whole. And yet, it seems to me that his answers may be too narrow. A wider question remains around the laws, practices and policies of global governments.

 That is, what if a law in another country changes or conflict with a cloud company's policies and procedures. Or, what if laws are not enforced or followed? Might a major investment be lost? What legal recourse will a company or local or state government have if a nation state decides to not play by their own rules?

It seems to me that this China situation has huge implications for cloud computing globally and locally for states. Put in another way, how does the legal framework of a country impact cloud computing?

 I heard a lecture once by a defense expert who said something to the effect that intentions can change overnight, but capabilities take many years to deploy. He was speaking about aircraft carriers and tanks, but I think that same quote applies to cloud infrastructure overseas - as we have just witnessed in China.

What are your thoughts on this topic?