Should Cloud Companies Become Internet Cops?

Cybercrime Expert Tatiana Tropina on the Rather Complicated Future of Online Law Enforcement

Biggie once said “Mo’ money, mo’ problems”, but in this case that can apply to hyperscale platforms whose clients push out billions of content nodes. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) described the passage of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive as “abandon[ing] common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts.”

The Directive was approved the European Council in April 2019—now its content must get synthesized into the laws of member states, which will take years—that means years of legal chaos…. and member states have until June 2021 to begin that process. Meanwhile, a big-money cover charge to present content in Europe will only ossify the dominance of today’s biggest platforms against upstart startups looking to change the game. This lines up with what Public Enemy producer Hank Shocklee said earlier at CloudFest, about the internet following the record-label model of consolidation and super-sizing.

What are the dangers of this approach to enforcement, and what should be done instead to really improve fighting crime online while safeguarding the privacy of users and following due process? In her CloudFest 2019 keynote, Dr. Tatiana Tropina, Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, explored answers to these questions and shared what cloud providers need to know about this newly-emerging reality.

Full Speed Ahead (Without a Map)
The EU E-Evidence proposal and the US CLOUD Act amount to a legal arms race, said Tropina, “and they’re racing down to the bottom.” The US CLOUD Act allows data grabs through international government agreement, bypassing judicial channels. Tropina said that the EU responded by coming up with something she described as even worse. “This will touch not only Google and Facebook and other cloud giants,” she said. “It affects any cloud provider.”

On the meta-level, Tropina said, there’s a conflict between intermediary liability and intermediary responsibility. Furthermore, what prevents “bad guy” countries from doing the same thing to the EU or the US? The frustration of legislators and law enforcement is understandable, said Tropina. Existing enforcement mechanisms are slow, and they require due process and safeguards. However, she said, creating these shortcuts is not helpful. The EU would have been better off improving other laws around data transmission while maintaining existing channels of judicial approval; rather than creating this new directive, which she evocatively described as “an ugly stillborn child.”

Dr. Tropina does not mince words! Read more on this important topic—download the free 2019 CloudFest Trend Report now!



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