Microsoft Bangs Drum For Cloud Legislation

In a speech Wednesday at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Smith called on Congress and the Obama administration to draw up "a Cloud Computing Advancement Act," a piece of legislation that would provide clear rules and policies around cloud computing in order to protect consumers and stimulate the market.

"We need to build confidence in the cloud," Smith said at the event. "We need Congress to modernize the laws, adapt them to the cloud, and adopt new measures to protect privacy and promote security."

Although the technology behind cloud computing already has a high level of security, the cloud also creates bigger targets for hackers and thieves, according to Smith. "We can't close our eyes to that reality. There is no benefit in underestimating the savvy of potential attackers," he said.

Earlier this week, Smith made his case in a Huffington Post blog post, citing Google's security breach in China earlier this month as a prime example of the security risks associated with cloud computing.

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"We need a safe and open cloud - a cloud that is protected from the efforts of thieves and hackers while also serving as an open source of information to all people around the world," Smith wrote in the blog post.

While it may seem ironic for Microsoft to be petitioning for government involvement, the company has made big bets on cloud computing and stands to gain much from the market's expansion. Microsoft launched its Windows Azure cloud computing platform Jan. 1 and will start charging customers on Feb. 1. The software giant also offers the Business Productivity Online Suite, which includes hosted versions of Exchange, Sharepoint, and Office Communications Server.

If the government doesn't get involved in addressing cloud computing's challenges, the industry's march to the cloud could be a slow one, Smith suggested. "Failure to do so is likely to slow industry development and consumer adoption, thus inhibiting the full growth and potential of cloud computing."