Can a Swiss cloud give users complete privacy?

Telecom provider Swisscom has announced its plans to set up a “Swiss cloud” that would give both Swiss and later foreign users some peace of mind regarding whether the information put into it could be accessed by foreign intelligence agencies.

Andreas Koenig, the telecom’s IT services chief, claims that the decision to do this wasn’t spurred by the recent revelations about NSA spying on its allies and on internet users all over the world, but by a wish to offer a cheaper alternative to its users. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that the NSA spying scandal will likely be something that will drive many users to use this “Swiss cloud”.

“Data protection and privacy is a long tradition in Switzerland, and that’s why it’s pretty difficult to get to something,” Koenig said to Reuters, but pointed out that “if legal requirements are there and we are asked by the judge to obtain or deliver certain information then we would obviously have to comply with it.”

Koenig shared some details about the project – namely, that all the data will be stored within the nation’s border (as defined by Swiss law), that the cloud environment will be protected by techniques for detecting intrusions and data compromise, and that it will be using HTML5 for the user interface.

Also, since Swisscom is majorly owned by the Swiss state and counts many of its banks as clients, they are bound by law to make sure any data transfer happens within the state’s borders.

Koenig didn’t say when Swiss users can expect the service to be available or how much will it cost, but he mentioned that the price will be competitive with other global cloud providers. Foreign users looking for such security are likely to wait a while before the service is offered to them.

The telecom itself is set to take advantage of the cloud it will be developing, as it plans to move most of its IT infrastructure to it by 2016.

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