Magazine article Information Management

Extending the Principles to the Internet: A Way to Restore Trust

Magazine article Information Management

Extending the Principles to the Internet: A Way to Restore Trust

Article excerpt

Almost from its inception, the Internet has spawned thorny, complex issues that are not easily resolved. Matters such as online piracy of copyrighted material, theft of trade secrets, cybersecurity, and trans-border data transfer issues constantly confront governments, Internet service providers, businesses, individuals, and watchdog groups.

In recent weeks, the balance of personal privacy and the need for national security have been the subject of high-profile news coverage. With revelations about the U.S. National Security Administration's (NSA) electronic surveillance program called PRISM, the parallels of data mining for marketing purposes and for surveillance purposes came into sharp focus.

Technology has given us the ability to store vast amounts of data cheaply. Now, with highly sophisticated data analytics tools, it is possible to exploit stored personal data not only for more effective marketing, but also for more effective detection of potential security threats.

The key difference is that while users freely give personal information to social media sites, e-mail services, marketers, and other Internet presences, they don't necessarily suspect that this personal data can then be handed over to federal investigators. That's because many people don't realize that the background architecture for storing such data is the cloud.

A Battle in the Cloud

According to The State of Cloud Storage 2013 Industry Report from storage vendor Nasuni, cloud storage providers put more than one exabyte of information--that's more than 1 billion gigabytes--under contract in the previous year.

With surprising revelations about how large providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, have responded to federal warrants has come a public outcry. According to reports in The New York Times, some providers have had teams of in-house experts charged with finding ways to cooperate with the NSA, a strategy aimed to keep the information-mining process under the company's control rather than the federal agency's control.

Cloud service providers--and the companies that use them via Internet connections to provide flexible processing for transactions, communications, and storage --have suffered huge reputational damage. Internationally, some countries have exploited the NSA revelations to maintain that those who fear their communications are being intercepted should not use services that go through American servers.

In short, an atmosphere of deep mistrust has arisen that could prove damaging and costly to cloud service providers as well as to any entity that collects customer information in business-to-business or business-to-consumer transactions.

Principles Show Way Forward

Into this maelstrom steps Michael Geist, J.S.D., who believes that issues associated with cyber-mistrust are going to put pressure points on the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles[R] (Principles) and extend them in ways that people may not have been thinking about up to now.

Evaluating Service Providers

In addition to using the Principles to measure the effectiveness of in-house records programs, organizations may come to use them as a means to judge the information management maturity of their service providers. Going further, Geist believes the Principles and the Information Governance Maturity Model (Maturity Model) may also provide a template for devising solutions to restore trust.

Geist believes that companies offering cloud-based services--whether e-mail, social media, voice over Internet protocol, applications, or storage--will face some hard times in the wake of the U.S. surveillance scandals. Recent surveys have shown that U.S. cloud providers could lose as much as 20% of the international market for these services over the next three years.

Why? "Public trust is crucial for service providers," says Geist. "The providers were functioning in the hope that there wouldn't be a Snowden," he says, referring to NSA contract worker Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information about NSA surveillance activities. …

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