‘Transcending the Cloud’ – Rimon Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing

This post was written by Joseph I. Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal and Douglas J. Wood.

For those of you who have wondered why Legal Bytes has been so quiet recently, it’s because I, and my colleague Adam Snukal, have been hard at work coordinating and putting together a new initiative – Cloud Computing.

Today, we are proud to announce the launch of a new Rimon initiative focusing on Cloud Computing and showcased with our new series of white papers entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.”  The term “cloud computing” is showing up with greater frequency, but there is still much confusion and unawareness of what it means, and, more significantly for our purposes, how it is affecting and will increasingly affect you.  In the decade ahead, cloud computing likely will affect everyone, from major multinational corporations to consumers; from governments to the local grocery store.

But cloud computing, like social media, is ultimately not about technological innovation or novel or transformative invention – it is about changing the fundamental nature of our relationships and how all of us access and use information and application programs: at work, in school, at play, as we shop and as we grow.  Cloud computing is transformative because it will enable anyone, anywhere and at any time, to access, use and create information and content – whether working on a spreadsheet, collaborating on a graphic design, creating an online gaming program, searching for a new restaurant, streaming music, or watching a motion picture – independent of a robust processing device.  No longer tied to desktops, laptops or proprietary pieces of equipment – just plug into the wall, as you would for electricity, and it’s there.  All you need is the ability to enter commands (input) and to display and receive (output) the results.  No plugs, no problem.  Just as sending and receiving transmissions wirelessly occur today, so too will the devices that access the cloud.

In this brave new world, there will be new providers, new economic models, new access plans, and broadened capabilities, at differential pricing.  On demand, subscription, tiered pricing (anyone remember the timesharing companies of the late ‘60s and ‘70s?) will likely return to fashion in a world of cloud computing.

As mentioned above, the Cloud Computing Task Force at Rimon has created a series of white papers – collectively entitled “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” – to elucidate the opportunities and dangers, the risks and rewards of cloud computing.  Our collection of white papers will cover cloud computing issues you may have heard little about, but that are and will be no less significant.  Will we still need backup on our devices?  What about cloud insurance?  New economic and business models mean – yes, you knew this was coming – new taxes.  What about security and privacy and data protection in the cloud?  We will worry about standards and interoperability.  No one provider can possibly cover the world or a world of data and applications – mobile phone carriers interexchange based on regulations over decades; Internet protocols evolved to ensure that email and other providers would enable individuals to communicate regardless of proprietary networks or email programming.  Will clouds evolve the same way?  Will there be barriers to entry as a cloud provider?  Infrastructure is expensive; global capability more so.  Providers will vie for cloud apps.

Our approach is also unique.  Today, we are launching our initiative.  An introduction and three exciting new introductory white papers all dealing with the cloud: government contracting, tax and service levels, and other contractual performance protections.  We will release case studies in the weeks ahead, providing practical examples based on the white papers and insights into how law and regulation is likely to affect each of these areas.  Where answers are available, we’ll tell you.  Where they are not, we’ll be insightful.  We have assembled a multi-jurisdictional, cross-disciplinary team, a task force of lawyers and professionals dealing with the issues arising in Cloud Computing.  In the weeks and months ahead we’ll keep releasing white papers – antitrust and competition law, e discovery, litigation, insurance, contract law and regulatory compliance.  We will not only deal with U.S. law, but will also provide you with contributions from our lawyers around the world.  Each release will not only provide an individual chapter that is the subject of the release (today we have Government Contracting, Tax and SLA/Performance Protection), but also an updated comprehensive copy of the growing compendium.  Transcending the Cloud will dynamically provide insights as the industry and challenges grow.  Keep a copy handy.  Make sure you check back for updates regularly.  Join us in the conversation.

I want to thank my colleague Adam Snukal for his steady hand and keen insight in helping me to put this Cloud Computing initiative together.  And Kevin Vaarsi, our marketing guru, who coordinated much of the logistics and the planning for our initiative.  Most important, as you will see today and in the months ahead, a team of Rimon lawyers who have invested countless hours and done significant research to contribute these white papers and bring you their insights – none of this would be possible without them, and each paper will have names, contact information and biographical information about these terrific professionals.  As our body of work grows, we will make each white paper available as a separate PDF, but we will also update our “Transcending the Cloud” compendium for those of you wanting a constantly updated and growing body of legal and regulatory insight into Cloud Computing in one place.  Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information.  Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact me Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal, or any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Digital Dilemma – How To Respond When Law Enforcement Knocks

The SEC shows up at your door asking for documents relating to options and securities granted for the past 10 years. Homeland Security Officers arrive at your plant asking to speak to several employees and asking for copies of employment records. State police, having confiscated laptop computers and CD-ROM files during a drug bust, show up at your door asking to compare database records since they suspect that identity theft or credit card fraud may be afoot. The Department of Justice wants to interview several of your employees, claiming some may have entered the United States on non-immigrant visas. Sound far-fetched? Probably not these days.

With the economy in turmoil, corporate officers on the defensive, immigration under attack, and money laundering, piracy, drugs, terrorism and Ponzi schemes making headlines almost every day, law enforcement and regulatory officials are under increasing scrutiny and increasing pressure to protect the public and get results. It doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate that during the course of a criminal investigation, the most compelling evidence often arises from third parties who aren’t even knowingly involved; airline, credit card, hotel, telephone, email and other records can often document the where, when and sometimes how of criminal activity.

From a civil law point of view, competitive pressures can lead to claims of economic espionage and theft of trade secrets, and antitrust issues can arise that will spawn litigation and the compelled disclosure of evidence. Indeed, any corporate executive or corporate lawyer who has ever been on the receiving end of a third party subpoena issued to them—innocent third parties—knows how burdensome and costly such requests for evidence can be, even if you aren’t a party to the lawsuit.

In a digital world, it is also far too easy to collect, maintain and copy vast amounts of information—information accessible with several keystrokes, available on easily transportable magnetic media. For corporations and their executives and managers, growing and often regular dilemmas must be confronted when law enforcement or regulators show up at the door and start asking questions or requesting information. Corporations have legal obligations involving compliance and cooperation with law enforcement and regulatory officials. But they also have responsibilities and legal obligations to their employees and their workplaces—and to their shareholders. If not done properly, cooperating with law enforcement and regulators can lead to lawsuits by employees, customers and, sometimes—if large amounts of time and money are expended because of improper or inadequate procedures—even shareholders. 

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