The Devil's in the Detail
There has been increasing focus in recent months on cloud SLAs and how they may impact business. You know what SLAs are, don't you: they are like terms and conditions - the small print text hardly anybody ever reads when buying a product signing up to a service. Enterprises will be a little more careful with their due diligence but it is still the Wild West out there and very few will know what to look for in such a contract, and I suspect fewer still will know which omissions to check. There is also a new problem beginning to emerge that has been highlighted by a survey made by the Cloud Legal Project at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), within the School of Law at Queen Mary at the University of London in the UK.
The project has been examining a wide range of legal and regulatory issues arising from (obviously public) cloud computing.
The project's survey of 31 cloud computing contracts from 27 different providers, based on their standard terms of service as offered to customers in the E.U. and U.K., found that many include clauses that could have a significant impact, often negative, on the rights and interests of customers.
Significantly, the survey found that some contracts, for instance, have clauses disclaiming responsibility for keeping the user’s data secure or intact. What is the point in that?
Others reserve the right to terminate accounts for apparent lack of use (potentially important if they are used for occasional backup or disaster recovery purposes), for violation of the provider’s Acceptable Use Policy, or indeed for any or no reason at all. Furthermore, whilst some providers promise only to hand over customer data if served with a court order, others state that they will do so on much wider grounds, including it simply being in their own business interests to disclose the data. Cloud providers also often exclude liability for loss of data, or strictly limit the damages that can be claimed against them – damages that might otherwise be substantial if a failure brought down an e-commerce web site.Continued on the next page