Data Ownership: Who Really Controls Your Data?

social media cloud security

Who owns your data in the cloud?

Who owns the data?

Cloud data ownership is becoming a growing concern among businesses and individuals, particularly in the wake of data leaks or controversies involving Apple’s cloud or social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. Individuals and companies are starting to realize that they don’t always maintain ownership of information sent, received, or stored via cloud resources, especially social media cloud security. The same concerns exist for companies that contract with cloud vendors for business records management.

Some Cloud Vendors Contract for Ownership

Cloud vendor contracts may include specific wording that claims ownership of your data stored on their own cloud servers. This may be especially true when dealing with software-as-a-service vendors. Even when data ownership is not specifically claimed by a cloud vendor, many contracts cast uncertainty over who has complete control and ownership of data.

Data Ownership and eDiscovery Strategies

Ambiguous contracts create a number of worries for businesses storing data with cloud vendors. One area where ownership comes into play is during legal holds and eDiscovery. If a cloud vendor claims ownership over all or a portion of data stored though its service, compiling information in response to litigation requests can become difficult if not impossible.

Some ways vendor ownership of data causes problems with eDiscovery processes include:

  • A contract dispute with the vendor could potentially cause the vendor to hold information after services are terminated.
  • Outside control over data may interfere with your company’s ability to produce information in a format and timeline that is compliant with eDiscovery requirements.
  • Data woes can even extend beyond contract termination or eDiscovery requests when data ownership is in question. When a vendor claims ownership of data, your company may not be able to confirm all data is removed from vendor systems once you no longer use the service opening up a records management nightmare. The possibility of data hanging out in environments your company has no control over creates risks that could lead to compliance and privacy issues.

Avoiding Data Ownership Issues

The best way to avoid data ownership issues is to hash them out with a cloud vendor during the contract negotiation stage. Avoid contracts that stipulate any form of ownership on the part of the cloud vendor, and push for wording that confirms your company retains control and full rights to all data you store on cloud servers. Negotiations should also include detailed requirements about how cloud vendors assure deletion of content following service termination and whether vendors can guarantee access to data at any time.

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