By Daniel Hunter

In a first-ever analysis of the shifting international policy landscape for cloud computing, a new study ranks the UK 7th out of 24 leading IT economies, down one place from its starting position of joint sixth last year.

Although the UK’s overall score improved slightly, it finds itself down in seventh place as the scorecard’s biggest mover, Singapore, vaults up five places to fifth rank after adopting a new privacy law that builds user trust while also promoting business innovation.

BSA | The Software Alliance evaluated national laws and regulations in seven policy areas critical to the development of a globally integrated cloud marketplace. The findings released today in the 2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard build on a first edition of the study, published in early 2012.

“It is discouraging that the UK has not made more progress in adopting policies that are conducive to cloud innovation,” said Thomas Boué, Director of Government Relations at BSA. “Every country’s policies affect the global cloud marketplace. The UK could improve its standing by eliminating technology mandates and preferences related to cloud computing services.”

Japan continues to lead the global rankings with a comprehensive suite of laws supporting digital commerce. Australia remains in second place, and the US edged into third this year, pushing Germany into fourth place in the rankings.

The study finds that cloud policy improvements in many of the world’s biggest IT markets have stalled. Notably, all six European Union countries covered in the study have lost ground in the rankings. Others are effectively unplugging themselves from the global market – with especially counterproductive policies in Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“We’re seeing patchy progress in the policy landscape for cloud computing,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. “Mismatched privacy and security rules are making it hard for data to flow across borders, and too many countries are chopping off pieces of the cloud for themselves. This undercuts economies of scale that would benefit everyone.”

To capture maximum benefit from cloud computing, BSA advocates a policy blueprint covering each of the seven areas in the study – data privacy, cybersecurity, cybercrime, intellectual property, technology interoperability and legal harmonisation, free trade, and ICT infrastructure.

Specifically, BSA recommends policymakers take the following actions:

- Ensure privacy: Users must have faith their information will be treated carefully, and providers must have freedom to move data efficiently in the cloud.
- Promote security: Effective risk management requires flexibility to implement cutting-edge security solutions.
- Battle cybercrime: Law enforcement and cloud providers alike need effective legal mechanisms to combat illicit access to data.
- Protect IP: Laws should provide clear protection and enforcement against infringement of underlying cloud innovations.
- Ensure data portability and harmonising global rules: Governments should work with industry to develop standards that facilitate data flows while minimising conflicting legal obligations.
- Promote free trade: Eliminate barriers such as preferences for particular products or service providers.
- Bolster IT infrastructure: Provide incentives for investment in broadband and promote universal access.

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