Sending Data Into the Cloud – What May Help Today Could Cause Problems Tomorrow

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11/30/2010 10:14 AM

"The Cloud." If you don’t know the term, get used to hearing it. Today’s technology offers extensive opportunities for sharing, storing, and backing up data remotely – data sent to and stored on servers you do not own, control, or, probably, even have the ability to monitor. Where is the data? It’s in "The Cloud." Some services offer the ability to sync documents and data between multiple computers. These services offer opportunities for you and your employees to work more efficiently, which ultimately benefits your bottom line. The services advertise secure servers, which they probably are, but most services also include fine print in their agreements disclaiming liability, and specifically disclaim it if you accidentally upload something as "public."

There are two legal areas where this could cause problems for you: 1) information that you are required to keep confidential (such as information required to be confidential for HIPAA compliance or under a confidentiality agreement), and 2) information that you want to keep confidential (such as trade secrets). If an employee shares information unintentionally, your business could be exposed to liability or financial loss. Imagine if Coca-Cola uploaded its secret recipe to "The Cloud" and checked the wrong box!

A question you should think about – even without the impact of "The Cloud" – are you doing enough to ensure that your confidential data remains confidential? Do you have an employee technology policy that ensures that you are following legal requirements for keeping protected data confidential – or for keeping your trade secrets confidential? Using "The Cloud" and all the opportunities it provides definitely can make life easier, provided you meet confidentiality standards. Planning ahead with proper policies and planning to deal with the legal ramifications of any accidental release could ensure that your life doesn’t get harder once your information is in "The Cloud" and out of your control.

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Jones at 410-752-9765 or

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