On Top Of The World: Which Countries Are Most Ready For The Cloud?

Cloud Adoption Proceeds Unevenly

The BSA Software Alliance issued a scorecard that suggests worldwide readiness for cloud computing is on the upswing, although not necessarily distributed evenly among the countries of the world. The scorecard is based on regulations relevant to cloud computing, as well as infrastructure- and technology-related issues that can impact adoption. The list of areas examined in the study include security, cybercrime, intellectual property rights, standards, free trade, information and communication technology readiness, and broadband deployment. Based on its findings, here is the BSA Software Alliance's list of countries best suited for cloud adoption.

10. Italy

Italy has slipped four places from last year's study to this year's, from No. 6 down to No. 10. Although the country has strong laws related to privacy, cybercrime and copyright protection, the study expresses some uncertainty regarding the actual enforcement of copyright breaches. In addition, new regulations on ISP liability failed to gain support last year. The country also has a level of mandatory filtering for certain types of content. On the positive side of the ledger, Italy has modern e-commerce and electronic signature laws, and the government has expressed commitment to international standards and interoperability. Broadband penetration is moderate and is considered likely to improve.

9. Canada

Updated international property laws and improved infrastructure pushed Canada upward three notches in the study to the No. 9 position. Although the country has not adopted a comprehensive plan for broadband deployment, the study reports that the current level of penetration is high and continues to improve. Canada has played a key role in the development of international standards and has very strong legislation around privacy and e-commerce. Cybercrime law, on the other hand, is currently lacking, according to the study. Last year, the country adopted new copyright laws, thereby providing protection for online material.

8. South Korea

The BSA Software Alliance is satisfied with South Korea's legislation around privacy, intellectual property and its various efforts to stimulate the digital economy, including broadband penetration. However, the country's laws related to cybercrime are believed to be in need of improvement. New rules for cloud service providers have been criticized as being too restrictive on business, based on recommendations that would add additional registration, reporting and security requirements. Those concerns have been communicated to the government, which is now revisiting the proposed policies. South Korea continues to hold the No. 8 position in the group's 2013 scorecard.

7. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom was given kudos in the report for having extensive data protection and intellectual property laws, combined with consistent enforcement that includes substantial fines. The country is also free of censorship and Internet filtering, and is seen as having effective laws for e-commerce and digital signatures. Although the country has signed on to the Convention on Cybercrime, not all of the key provisions of the treaty have yet been implemented. This, combined with data registration requirements, has caused the U.K.'s position in the study to slip from a tie for sixth place to sole possession of seventh place. Broadband penetration is high and is expected to continue to improve.

6. France

France is viewed as a country that has particularly strong cybercrime legislation and copyright protections that make it a solid market for cloud services. The country also has contemporary policies related to e-commerce and electronic signatures. But the study expressed concern over France's enforcement of its existing laws, and its privacy legislation is viewed by the group as being onerous, cumbersome and unnecessary. Broadband buildout efforts have been very successful, but not enough to keep France from slipping one position on the scorecard to sixth place.

5. Singapore

The scorecard credits Singapore as having some of the most advanced digital economy laws in Asia. These would include legislation related to cybercrime and intellectual property. The privacy law passed last year by the Singapore government is described as a balanced approach between protecting personal information and facilitating innovation in cloud computing. Infrastructure is well-deployed, and although the study notes the presence of some level of Internet censorship, the absence of tariffs and government intervention helped to propel Singapore five places in the survey to the No. 5 position.

4. Germany

Germany gets high marks in the study for laws related to cybercrime and intellectual property, and the country is increasing its broadband buildout while demonstrating strong commitment to standards and interoperability. This combination is generally seen as positive for cloud computing services, but the BSA Software Alliance also expressed reservations about whether providers may be liable for copyright breaches that are carried across their networks. The country also has 17 different agencies issuing policies around data protection, which is likely to yield a certain amount of confusion. Germany slipped one spot in the ranking and is now in fourth place.

3. United States

The survey finds the U.S. as having a mixed bag of pros and cons with respect to cloud computing. On the positive side of the ledger, the U.S. has extensive laws governing e-commerce, electronic signatures and cybercrime, while at the same time taking a leadership position in the investigation of cybercrime. On the other hand, laws protecting intellectual property are described as "mixed," given the fact that courts have occasionally disagreed on the definition of an online copyright breach. Broadband buildout is inconsistent, given the sheer geographical size of the country. Year-over-year, the U.S. swapped places with Germany and is now in the third position.

2. Australia

Focused on international cooperation, free trade and interoperability, Australia is doing a full-court press to promote cloud computing, according to the survey. The necessary cybercrime, electronic signature and e-commerce laws have been enacted, and privacy legislation has been passed. Content-filtering requirements have been terminated. The country's intellectual property laws are viewed as appropriately balanced to further support cloud computing services, although questions remain regarding provider liability for copyright breaches. Broadband infrastructure is fairly well developed, and efforts are under way to further increase deployment. Australia was listed in second place last year, and that's where it stays.

1. Japan

Japan maintained its No. 1 position on the scorecard, bolstered by laws favorable to cloud computing and the overall digital economy. Privacy-related and intellectual property laws are well developed, as is the country's broadband penetration, which is expected to extend to every household by 2015. Japan is an active player in the development of international standards, and its government has ratified the Convention on Cybercrime. According to the survey, Japan's score has actually increased over its level from last year, during which it had already achieved first place.