Turnbull tries to untangle cloud regulatory hairball to help small businesses


Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has entered the fray to help sort out confusion surrounding regulatory obligations affecting small businesses that are now trying to adopt cloud computing.

He says a new guide from his department will help enterprises adopt the disruptive technology and its services with greater confidence.

The latest official advice from the Communications Department follows more than three years of mixed messages from various regulators and Mr Turnbull is hailing the release of the Cloud Computing Regulatory Stock Take as a leap forward in making sense of both obligations and opportunities to spur on private investment in the digital services sector as a means to boost both productivity and profitability.

The federal government has created the Stock Take as a way to provide guidance on the regulation that affects the Australian cloud market, highlights key areas in Commonwealth legislation that may apply, and how this might impact the take-up of services.

Although the Stock Take acknowledges that much of the existing regulation supports the efficient functioning of the Australian Cloud services market, it has stressed the need to “reflect” on the extent to which existing laws may “constrain” competition and innovation in the market.

The Stock Take noted that it is government’s policy that regulation should not be the default option for policy makers and should only be imposed where it provides a net benefit to the community.

“For this reason, sector specific regulation should be recognised as the very last option to be considered by decision makers,” the Stock Take said.

The Stock Take highlighted an observation by one stakeholder that said “cloud computing is not a technological revolution that requires separate, cloud specific rules”.

The government fears that the collective adoption of cloud services could be stymied by laws and regulations that have the potential to scare small businesses away from investing in cloud-based technologies.

As a result, the government is keen to get more Australian firms in on cloud computing as consultancy firm KPMG estimates that the Australian economy could be boosted by $3.32 billion a year through the adoption of cloud services.

The government has invited additional feedback by industry, consumer stakeholders or the public and is interested in views on whether the regulation in this space is “overly complex or burdensome”.

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