Nations around the world have made spotty progress on national policies to support cloud computing and digital commerce, with a few standouts, such as Singapore, passing solid privacy and security regulations, according to a survey of 24 countries by the Business Software Alliance.
In the "2013 BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard," Asian nations ran the gamut of marks for policy. Japan topped the list of nations with comprehensive laws supporting cloud computing and digital commerce, while Vietnam brought up the bottom due to a lack of regulations. Australia and the United States claimed the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively, while Singapore's strong privacy and security regulations helped it vault to fifth place from number 10 last year.
"We see some really patchy progress around the world," said Chris Hopfensperger, technology policy counsel for the BSA. "Countries like Singapore have embraced a future of wanting to be a digital hub, [while] in Europe, we have seen real stalling across the board."
The survey measures how friendly nations' policies are to cloud computing and digital commerce, taking into account factors such as whether there are laws dealing with privacy, security, cyber-crime and intellectual property. Because the Business Software Alliance has historically been most interested in protecting its members’ software from piracy, the report gives appropriate intellectual property regulations the most weight among those four issues. The largest factor, however, was the readiness of a country's infrastructure to handle digital commerce.
The top-five nations were Japan, Australia, the United States, Germany and Singapore, while the bottom five were Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa. Singapore, Canada, Russia, India, China and Brazil all moved up at least two positions in the rankings. Although it didn't move up in rankings, Malaysia added the most points to its score by improving its cyber-crime and intellectual-property laws, Hopfensperger said.
"Malaysia crossed the digital divide from a developing market to a digital market," he said. "We hope for more of that."
Singapore, the biggest gainer in rankings, passed a new privacy regime last year that borrows from the European Union model as well as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) privacy framework. The law balances the obvious need for personal data protection with the ability of companies to move data through the cloud to support digital commerce, Hopfensperger said.
In the United States, despite fears that some companies and individuals have that the government could sift through their cloud data, the reality is that the policies are quite supportive of privacy and security, said Hopfensperger.
"There are really strong protections in U.S. law to prevent the government from lifting the hood and digging around in your data," he said. "They have to have pretty good reasons to do so. There are a lot of barriers that get in the way."