Australian Government Indirectly Dissing US-Based Cloud Services By Not Using Them

A US report has pointed an angry finger at our government's use of local cloud providers over that of US-based ones and the message it sends. Apparently, the simple act of not using online storage companies in the US to store sensitive information is paramount to giving such services a one-star review.

The US' grievances are expressed in "The 2012 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE)", carried out by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, or USTR. In it, the Department of Defence, the Privacy Commissioner for Victora and the National Archives of Australia are singled out as "sending negative messages about cloud providers based outside the country". But not because they were trolling Amazon or leaving erroneous negative feedback on eBay — the departments have just chosen to use local cloud providers instead of US ones.

According to Delimiter, the bigger issues that have kept the departments from exploring US-based options are privacy and a lack of infrastructure:

US cloud computing companies such as, Rackspace, Amazon and Google have committed very little infrastructure to the Australian market, and analysis after analysis has warned of the data security dangers of storing sensitive data in jurisdictions covered by US legislation, which can, at times, allow the US Government unprecedented access to private data.

The report mentions that the government departments have it all wrong — there's been a "misinterpretation" of the Patriot Act and related regulations. That said, given the choice of going abroad with our personal data and risking the messy legalities, or just finding someone local and being in a position to keep a close eye on things, the decision seems a fairly obvious one to me, the US be damned.

Image: Daniel Boyd.





    Go Aussie government. That's one technology thing they have gotten right. If anyone's peeking in my data I'd much prefer the Australian gov't than the Americans.

      Yeah umm, what? So what happens if the US company screws up and leaks sensitive data? Do we then have to ask really nicely to the Americans for them to allow us to pursue legal action?

      Not that I have anything specifically against these US companies, but storing sensitive documents and the like overseas and out of our jurisdiction just seems a bit backwards.

        Pretty sure you got tsengan's comment bassackwards mate!

          Yeah sorry, I was agreeing with tsengan but realise my expression was bad. I'm getting annoyed at the Americans and their desire for us to store our data there, it seems stupid.

          Maybe if I didn't make that a reply :P

      Not only can they peek, but if they just decide its suspect terrorist activity they don't have to tell you they are peeking, nor notify Australian law enforcement and they can lock you out and take your access away from it without notice.

      If you're guilty, fine. Problem is they can do it just on the suspicion of.

    Yanks whinging again because someone, somewhere in the world doesn't immediately treat them like gods, what a surprise. That said, if Abbott gets in next year I fully expect him to pass laws making US services the default standard for everything from your freeway ticket to bog paper. Now if we had cheap broadband like in the US it'd be a different story.

    um.... USA laws are different than Australian laws (and the can change the local ones). Why Shouldnt they go local?? AND the access times maybe quicker when the cloud is local. or maybe it was a commerical reason (ITS CHEAPER) to go local? maybe its a policy of the to put things out to tender localy... like the Northern Territory Gov.

      Highly unlikely that it would be cheaper most net based services are more expensive here. But my first though was well duh, the latency is a lot lower here and that is more than enough to diss them.

      The second being the US government potentially annexing a server with our data on it, eg say the Australian government stored sensitive docs on mega upload, and they are not giving anyone access to the docs on MU, if it was an important set of documents, that could place a strain on the relations between AUS and USA (and could possibly, technically be construed as an act of war ). It's just much easier to have it local.

    I support online trainings systems for a TAFE. The legal op

    I work with online training systems for a TAFE. The legal opinion we received was that we may need to comply with the privacy legislation of every state our students are based in. If we hosted overseas it would add even more legal problems

    Wait for the US Congress to pass laws requiring everybody in the world to use US cloud servers!

    Yeah this is all fine and well for the US to scream use our services we promise everything is okay with private and confidential information. Yet with the company I work for FAA will not let us store data that it deems confidential and sensitive in a secure data center here in Australia!! Hypocrites!!!

    "...which can, at times, allow the US Government unprecedented access to private data"
    Use MANIFESTO and keep encypted fragments in disparate locations (if needed)... - it works - and for the time being is FREE !

    Yet the moron who wrote that report is oblivious to the logically conclusive retort that the US (presumably) not using Australian cloud providers sends exactly the same message about Aussie cloud providers.

    I mean, I have a spare 286 with a 20mb hard drive and 14.4k Maestro modem somewhere in the shed, surely that would do the trick...

    Hhmm and if it were the Chinese saying the same thing??

    Betcha the American government wouldn't store their data on our cloud servers!

    I take part in the selection process for cloud providers for one of the larger Aust Govt departments. There is absolutely no way we will store privacy-sensitive data on US servers while the US PATRIOT Act is in force. Plenty of other factors but that is a showstopper

      I agree. And by extension, does US PATRIOT Act render all USA sourced telecommunications infrastructure installed anywhere within Australia vulnerable to probing eyes of US Security Agencies?

    The Aust National Privacy Principles are pretty clear on trans-border data flows and the requirements needed to allow this.

    Don't we have a right to store our information where we choose to?

    Yet honestly expect our government to store sensitive material on services under the jurisdiction of a government that thinks that the Patriot Act is a good idea?

    Is the US using any of our cloud services?


    using your own countries clouds only makes sense for your economy, Americans just want all the money.

    I love it!
    If that's how the egotistical power crazy Yanks see it then keep on dissing.
    In addition to the Patriot Act , the Republicans now want to introduce the CISPA (read SOPA disguised) legislation which would provide unprecedented powers to the US government to access your data without a warrant.

    We have been using azure for a local client. Closest server is in Singapore. Latency has killed it. We are now moving to a local provider. If they had an auzzie data centre It would be a different story. Although if we were storing personal information we would warn the client about Patriot Act and highly recommended going local.

    That is all...

    Of course the DOD isn't using US cloud companies. Security breach, much. F'ing indiots

    Whoever wrote that US Report need to be removed from their position. I know that common sense is no longer all that common but that level of stupidity should not be allowed to stand.

      Totally agree with Drew, what idiotic yank made that assessment and why does he (coz a woman COULDN'T be that stupid) still have gainful employment?

    this is the whole issue with cloud storage and why it is a stupid idea designed around subscriptions to keep the money rolling in. People are told it is the next big thing so it becomes the next big thing.

    I'm surprised the writers of the report realised that Australia is in another country. Smart.

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