We have this funny love-hate relationship with the United States.

On the one hand Canadian organizations fill their data centres with their hardware and software, admire their IT leaders, are downright jealous of the money Silcon Vally can throw at startups and regularly hire American IT consultants to give them advice.

On the other hand they are shy about putting corporate data on U.S. servers, often citing worries that American law enforcement agencies can get hold of data through the USA Patriot Act if information crosses their borders.

So is the Canadian government, University of Ottawa Internet law professor Michael Geist points out in a blog.
Ottawa insisted last year as part of the requirements for its outsourced email system the provider ensure it is hosted here on a secured server.

According to U.S. documents obtained by the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the reason the Canadians gave Washington was worries about the Patriot Act.

There are experts like Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian who say the Patriot Act is a red herring – if the Americans want access to data they’ll get it somehow. They also say encrypting data is a good defence.

Still, as Geist points out, if the Canadian government doesn’t think putting data in a U.S.-based cloud is good enough, why should your business?

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Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com