Recently, the Dutch government announced that its services can now be deployed in commercial public clouds. This means that government bodies can start using public cloud services to host and run its software, and government employees will start using cloud based offerings such as Office 365 and Google Workspace, among others.
What is happening here?
The Dutch government has long been in a grey area concerning this. Commercial cloud companies were only to be used in certain cases, and still had to prove all data would be housed on servers in the EU - not outside of it.
I've been involved in several projects within different government bodies and departments where a company behind a much used piece of software deployed a so called 'cloud only' policy, forcing clients to make the move. This has been controversial as there has always been a strict policy around what level of classified data would or would not be allowed in the cloud. Governments typically divide data into different classes and apply rules to who has access to it.
Why is this important?
There are two immediate consequences that stem from this move. First of all, it unlocks opportunities that have been troublesome within government departments responsible for the development of software and services. With access to certain* cloud services and companies, life within IT departments becomes easier as software is more and more cloud only. Hindrance by rules and regulations will be less, although probably not completely gone.
On the other hand, this move has another, possibly unwanted effect on us all. Banks and governments were the last hurdle for cloud companies. With those mostly out of the way, the number of companies that force us (you and me) into the cloud will only grow. This raises two questions:
- What about our data and the privacy that is supposed to go with it?
- Do we really want to be forced into a (subscription) model where our computers, smartphones and tablets depend on an internet connection 24/7?
Both are, in my opinion, high priority questions. The answers? Personally, I don't see the need for an internet connection for everything that I do. As you may, or may not know, manufacturers like Apple and Microsoft have software running on their operating systems that call home all the time, in some cases even preventing us from doing certain things, even though we bought the devices and the software that comes with it, or so we thought at least.
And our privacy, well, that has been eroding for the last twenty years already, and there are no signs of a change in direction.
I have my doubts about all of this.
*the new ruling allows certain cloud services, not all of them unrestricted