Cloud Computing in Higher Education and Research Institutions and the USA Patriot Act

What are the implications of the Patriot Act for the possibility that access to information from higher education and research institutions stored in the cloud is requested by U.S. authorities? This is the key research question addressed in this report. The Patriot Act, enacted in 2001, has strengthened the powers to acquire data by American intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities. In practice, however, the Patriot Act is merely a complex part of an even more complex and dynamic system of data access powers granted under the American legal system. European privacy laws offer no safeguards against the exercise of these powers by the U.S. government. Nor can this risk be eliminated by contractual agreements. Whereas contracts would otherwise offer a solution in terms of providing a legal framework for risks, it is not possible from a legal point of view to use them to restrict the powers of law enforcement or intelligence agencies. From an international legal perspective and given the importance of the confidentiality of information for higher education and research institutions, these conclusions give cause for concern. At the end of the day, however, a real solution can only be found at an international level.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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