Global cloud use has increased substantially in recent years. As of 2022, it is estimated that 94% of enterprises use cloud services. Cloud computing is becoming the foundation of digitalization. It is reshaping economies as businesses take advantage of the benefits it provides for cost, security, and performance. As such, cloud computing is now a focus for policymakers and another area of geopolitical competition as tech governance, sovereignty, and economic competitiveness become major political issues.

The Strategic Technologies Program is undertaking a series of projects to examine the policy questions that are arising with the expanded use of cloud services. These projects will explore cloud’s impact on network security and customer experience, global competition with China in developing regions, and questions of lawful access to data and digital sovereignty.

Competing for the Future of Cloud

Cloud services play a crucial role as the backbone technology. Other emerging technologies, such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, biotechnology research, 5G, and artificial intelligence, depend on the cloud, making it truly strategic. The development of cloud services and infrastructure is a strategic issue in that the outcome of cloud competition will shape the economic and security environment for the United States and other democracies. One paper on Southeast Asia’s cloud market is forthcoming on this topic.

Cloud and Law Enforcement Access to Data

The nature of cloud services means that data is often stored on one or several servers outside of a user’s borders as well as outside of the country where a company’s headquarters may be located. This makes economic sense but raises legal questions when governments wish to access electronic evidence that is stored outside of their jurisdiction for an investigation. This project examines cloud in the context of law enforcement access to data. 

Transitioning Federal Networks to Secure Government Cloud

Cloud services are a critical part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Cybersecurity Strategy released in March 2023. The strategy notes cloud enables “better and more economical cybersecurity practices at scale” and commits to advancing government use of the cloud to drive innovation and security in Federal networks. This project examines the opportunities and obstacles associated with secure federal cloud use. 

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