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BigData: Article

The Patriot Act Threatens Cloud Computing

Obama Administration Has Found that Bush's Jackboots Fit Very Well

"When the clock strikes midnight tomorrow, we will be giving terrorists the opportunity to plot against our country undetected. Now, the Senator from Kentucky is threatening to take away the best tools we have for stopping them."

And with that, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reached a new low-water mark in the modern history of debate in the US Senate. His ad hominem attack on newly elected Sen. Rand Paul were part of this week's Kabuki theater exercise to extend the major provisions of the Patriot Act; doing so became a done deal behind the scenes in the Senate last week, and President Obama quickly signed them into law.

This is one occasion in which one wishes for the gridlock that has ostensibly characterized Congress for the past two decades. The reality is, when it comes to trampling on civil liberties (and particularly the 4th Amendment), Congress speaks with one voice.

He's Not Alone
Sen. Reid is hardly a lone wolf among fellow Democrats on this issue. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California - who last week said that as she's seen the pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden no one else "needs to see them" - has mastered the Fear Game as well as anyone. "This is a time of heightened threat," she recently said. "Maybe no specific threat, but certainly heightened threats."

And there you have it. The never-ending War on Terror. Launched by George W. Bush, ridiculed by Democrats for eight years, embraced by both parties now that there is a Democrat in the White House.

Steve Jobs was right in 1984. He proved that 1984 won't be like 1984. Too bad he can no longer say that. We've always been at war with Eastasia. Ignorance is strength. War is peace. Thoughtcrime is death. And if you oppose the Patriot Act, you are double plus ungood; the good folks from the Ministry of Love may wish to have a chat with you.

Without Further Ado, Welcome to Cloud Expo!
I take this sunny, optimistic view as we enter the final countdown for Cloud Expo (June 6-9 at the Javits Center in New York), which promises to be the most dynamic Cloud event ever produced.

I've recently written brief overviews of a few of the sessions, and am genuinely pumped by the breadth and depth of the four-day program. It seems all the major Cloud vendors will be there, so everyone should come away fully informed and ready to remake their world somewhere within the Cloud taxonomy.

Cloud Expo also presents a great chance for buyers and vendors to drill down into their hot-button issues: security, integration with legacy IT, security, enforceable SLAs, true TCO, security, data migration between vendors, security, etc.

The Coming Sturm
But to me, a larger threat looms with errant twaddle such as that found in the Patriot Act. The Obama Administration has shown that the Bush Administration's jackboots fit well (see Bradley Manning, threats against Julian Assange, the International Cyberspace Strategy, and now the Patriot Act extension).

Ironic in that Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has put forward the most forward-looking government Cloud strategy on the planet, and the NIST continues to set the global standard for clarifying what Cloud Computing is all about.

The US government has a golden opportunity to lead the charge for Cloud Computing, but its paranoia about newfangled communications is strangling this effort. It is, in essence, attempting to control the Internet. In doing so, it threatens to undercut Cloud technology providers, most of whom are American companies, which develop the exact type of 21st century business that can lead the country out of its malignant economic woes.

Meanwhile, Facebook, Google, and all the other big data collectors-and there are thousands of them - think they are in a fight against state authorities who wish to institute privacy safeguards. They take the view that we have had no privacy for some time and they we need to get over it. They believe they are being open and upfront with their users in saying what they collect.

But they're fighting the wrong battle. They're fighting their own customers and the laws that would protect them. Meanwhile, a far darker, more onerous situation already exists at the federal level. Evil in this case doesn't come through thundering denunciations by charismatic demagogues, but in the small-minded bleatings of the mediocre Harry Reid and his fellow travelers.

Major data collectors have already shown they'll grab the hook, line, and sinker when the Feds go on fishing expeditions. With the International Cyberfascist Strategy and Patriot Act extension in full sail, expect to see any number of trawling nets. Whether you're a little fish, a big fish, or a dolphin, you're going to get swept up.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.