Draft of Cloud Computing Act Sneaks Online

A draft version of the not-yet-introduced 2011 Cloud Computing Act has found its way onto a public file sharing site.

The draft's only mention of the government's own data in the cloud is an effective endorsement of the "cloud first" initiative that Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra outlined in his strategy in February .

It's not clear how recently the draft version of the Act was produced or whether it represents the current thinking of its sponsors, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. It's also not clear who put the draft on the file sharing site or why.

There's been speculation in government that Kundra's planned departure in August to take a fellowship at Harvard University could lead to a softening of the White House's cloud-first policy. This version of the act, if adopted, would add the power of Congress behind that push.

Some agencies have expressed concern that cloud storage isn't secure enough for certain government information, such as taxpayer information and health records, that might be placed there.

The draft Act would codify a requirement in the cloud computing strategy that agencies submit a publicly available five-year forecast of their cloud transition plans.

The draft version of the Cloud Computing Act is focused primarily on codifying civil penalties for hacking email accounts and other data held in the cloud. The Act allows cloud providers or customers to sue hackers for the amount of damage they caused or the number of hacked accounts multiplied by $500.

Aides to Klobuchar have said the bill is near completion and that she plans to introduce it within a matter of weeks. A spokesman for Klobuchar did not immediately respond to an email query Friday about how up-to-date the draft version of the act is.

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