US Patriot Act: ‘If the US wants your data, they can get it’

Jennifer Scott News
6 Dec, 2011

An associate lawyer claims companies should accept the Patriot Act and just focus on what data they put into the cloud.

The US Patriot Act is “nothing new” and has to be accepted, according to a UK lawyer.

Barry Jennings, an associate at law firm Bird & Bird, said the current hype around the legislation – which allows the US Government to seize data held by companies based in its country – was “a little bit of scaremongering.”

During a Q&A session at the Business Cloud Summit yesterday, he told Virtual Clouds companies should focus on what data they put into the cloud, rather than worrying afterwards about the consequences.

“If you have got data you don't want a government having access to, don't put it in another country,” Jennings said.

When we asked about the revelations Microsoft made with the launch of Office 365 – telling customers, even if their data was stored in a European data centre, as a US company it was still subject to US legislation – Jennings continued his matter of fact answer.

“This is the world we live in,” he said. “If the US wants [your data] they can get it, they have much more resources than [companies] have.”

“I am more worried about the data you put out there.”

Frank Jennings, a partner at law firm DMH Stallard, claimed what businesses should really be concerned about is if a public cloud server was taken by the Federal Government, could they still operate.

“Failover is the risk,” he said. “If it is mission critical [for your company] and you can’t access it, it damages your business.”

However, Barry Jennings did have some words of comfort for those worried they would end up in the dock if their data was seized.

“If something goes wrong… the governments will go after the cloud vendors,” he concluded.

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