The Patriot Act: Its Effect on U.S. Tech Industry

February 15th, 2012

Could the Patriot Act slow down the tech industry in the United States? The Patriot Act provided a new opportunity for the military to protect the country after the September 11th attacks. However, now it has some foreign companies not willing to get into business with American companies. The problem is not the companies themselves but the technology they are using. That technology has an incredible impact on the way people do business in the US right now. Cloud computing is very useful but for foreign businesses, it seems like a risk.

What’s the Problem?

The problem with cloud computing is that it allows data to be stored in a “cloud” on the Internet. Anyone with the proper pass codes can access the information in the cloud and use it from virtually any location where there is an Internet connection. The problem is, though, foreign companies are leery about putting their private information on American company’s cloud systems. Could this provide an opportunity for the government to spy on their actions? Foreign competitors want companies to avoid working with American communities as a result.

Actions Under Way

The good news is that something is being done to minimize this worry and to encourage foreign companies that the government has no need or interest in tapping into private, foreign company’s information. The Obama Administration is taking steps to encourage a full understanding of the Patriot Act as well as what it means to business. The White House is working on solutions as this has a potentially big negative impact on many US businesses, especially since other companies are using and already benefiting from cloud systems overseas.

The Patriot Act has worried business owners in Europe, Asia and throughout the world. The worry is that, under this law, foreign companies may be required to provide information at any time upon request by the federal government in the US.

The threat is real. In the Netherlands, for example, authorities seemed to consider the idea of blocking any US based cloud firms from actually bidding on and receiving contract bids from government programs. It was never put into place, but the fear is that other countries will put this type of limitation in place.

The true benefit of cloud management is having free information travel between sources. With some countries now requesting businesses cut into this and to keep communications within the country’s borders there is a risk to American companies in this firm. In a report on cloud computing that came out in 2011, 71 experts from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce have come forward to put pressure on Washington to take control over the situation. It could mean a large problem for companies who want and need to expand their services overseas.

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