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Into the Clouds

April 25, 2013 - Igor Lyubashenko - Articles and Commentary

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It is not a secret that information is one of the principle resources of almost every business today; and business success depends strongly on the efficiency of the “information bloodstream” in a company. Information technology have become “steroids” for businesses throughout the world, multiplying their efficiency. However, in countries with poor investment climates it has become a source of additional threat. For example, it is now much easier to appropriate the information stored on servers and computers of any particular firm in the form of raider attacks.

Last year was marked by a series of incidents with online businesses in Ukraine, including more frequent instances of servers being arrested. Undoubtedly, this should not be automatically regarded as cases of limiting freedoms or unlawful interference into the functioning of the free market. Another issue is also worthy of attention in this regard. According to the Ukrainian media, the popularity of foreign hosting services has started to grow significantly among local entrepreneurs; and the influential web-resource Ekonomichna Pravda has published an article on the increasing popularity of cloud-based services. No wonder, it is much harder to appropriate data stored on a server, which is located outside the borders of the country. While this may be good information for the most popular providers of cloud computing, the situation indicates a potential challenge for European and American decision-makers.

However, this problem refers not only to Ukraine. Along with the increasing rates of internet penetration throughout the post-Soviet space, more businesses will go online often choosing the advantages of cloud computing. Protecting commercial data from illegal access is good, of course. But the situation means that states where service providers are registered and their servers are located may face an increased wave of official requests from third countries to provide information on their clients.

A number of questions arise at this point. How should potential politically-motivated requests be identified? How should potential attempts to hide fraud from “honest business” be separated? Do corporations have the will to cooperate with governments to eliminate the possibilities of potential mistakes in this field? These are questions addressed primarily to the policy-makers, but they are also important for service providers. Without a deliberate practical strategy it will be easy to discredit all slogans about supporting the rule of law and entrepreneurship in post-Soviet states as the basic preconditions for deeper reforms.

Igor Lyubashenko is an academic teacher, new media enthusiast and international relations analyst. He has a PhD in Political Science from the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin. His professional experience includes implementation of international projects in Ukraine and Moldova, academic teaching as well as working in the field of marketing communication. His scholarly interests include external policies of the European Union, political and economic processes taking place in Central and Eastern European states (in particular in Ukraine and Moldova), and more recently influence of information technologies on social and political processes.

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