Half of Germany currently works remotely in the home office because of the coronavirus, according to current figures from the industry association BITKOM. The mass work from home exacerbates a problem that we have been struggling with in Germany and Europe for some time. Due to the great time pressure, many IT departments are simply using the public cloud services of US internet giants to equip their home offices with the necessary tools – and these services are all subject to the US Cloud Act.
This relatively new law allows US authorities to require cloud providers in their country to release all data relating to a person or company – even if it is located on servers that are not in the US. This not only runs diametrically counter to European data protection laws such as the DSGVO; it also opens the door to industrial espionage. The Snowden revelations have already impressively shown that this is not just a hypothetical danger. In times of trade wars, Donald Trump and ‘America First’, even the very last inhibitions against this have probably been removed.
Therefore, the current situation makes it abundantly clear how right the European Union is with the data strategy it presented in mid-February, with which it intends to set the course for Europe’s digital future. A central point of this strategy is the creation of a European data infrastructure. ownCloud very much welcomes this plan. Europe must finally wake up and free itself from the dependence of the US internet giants and the stranglehold of the US Cloud Act; because as long as we in Europe are subject to this law – and we are de facto – data protection and data sovereignty are things of the impossible.
And we certainly do not have to start from scratch. After all, the necessary technologies are available in Europe. They are just not as well known as the products of the market-aggressive US players with their huge marketing budgets. There are already numerous successful projects, especially within the open source community, that are driving the development of their own independent cloud infrastructures.
Their greatest strength is the freely available source code. This allows everyone to see for themselves whether a software contains backdoors through which data can be leaked to unauthorized third parties. And when it comes to functionality, performance and user-friendliness, they don’t need to hide behind the Americans, quite the opposite: the swarming intelligence of the community ensures this. So the chance to free ourselves from the US data madness has been around for quite some time – now is the time to seize it for good.