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The cloud is a reference to the internet, and cloud computing means relocating computer resources and activities on to the internet. This note considers the potential for cloud computing, its applications and risks. Among the latter could be dependency on external provides of cloud computing services. Consideration also has to be given to implications for data security and compliance with data protection law.

Started under the Labour Government, the present administration is taking forward a programme that will see cloud computing contribute to the delivery of public sector services. This government cloud, called the G-cloud, provides an example of the use of so-called private cloud services that seek to ensure, among other things, the security of personal data.

The European Commission has been seeking views from citizens, businesses, public administrations and other interested parties on how to fully benefit from 'cloud computing'. There are concerns that the realisation of cloud computing’s economic benefits could be impeded by outdated regulations.

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