What happened to technology's little guy?

  
Disclaimer: all opinions in this column reflect the views of their authors’, not of EurActiv.com PLC.

The revision of the Data Protection Directive is an opportunity to harmonise the European Union's data protection rules, allowing SMEs to take full advantage of cloud computing's potential to save both time and money, argues Remi Caron of the Association for Competitive Technology.

Remi Caron is an enterprise (cloud) architect, entrepreneur and member of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT). Based in the Netherlands, he has over 22 years of experience in the IT industry.

"We all love a David and Goliath story. The underdog who, through superior planning and execution, tackles the giant and wins. Such stories fascinate us in all areas of life, from the grass of the football pitch to the world of international politics. In the world of business, small technology companies have a new powerful tool they can use to compete with the giants: Cloud Computing.

Through Cloud Computing, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can save time and money by renting top-quality computer infrastructure in data centres, rather than making enormous up-front investments. Cloud computing services lower operating costs and mobility while boosting power and scalability. The future will see a genuine chance given to the smaller service provider with the better product, a more competitive marketplace that speeds innovation and gives the customer the full spectrum of choice.

There are, however, regulatory obstacles which SMEs must face before we can truly embrace the possibilities. Protection of data is vital to us all in the Internet age, with worldwide networks also offering new opportunities for those who seek to access our information for nefarious purposes.

The lack of uniformity in Data Protection rules across the 27 EU member states make them hard to navigate and SMEs do not have the legal staff to sift through the intricacies of the laws in each country. Data Protection rules must not be weakened but instead harmonised, allowing Cloud Computing networks to operate across borders in a fashion that is safe for European citizens and beneficial for European business.

An opportunity to do precisely that is just around the corner. The upcoming revision of the current Data Protection Directive presents an opportunity for the European Commission to create a favourable atmosphere for cloud-based technology throughout the EU.

Strong leadership in revising the current Data Protection Directive will help make private data safer, increase consumer confidence and allow SMEs to innovate and thrive. When this can be achieved, our technology Davids will have their sling, and we will have opened the door to improved service, standards and opportunities."

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