Life in the Clouds: Ethical Issues Arising From Cloud Computing
Today’s post is based on a paper presented to the State Bar of Texas Advanced Intellectual Property Law CLE, February 2018.
For many, cloud computing evokes images of their data being stored in mystical “cloud” storage locations. In reality, cloud computing is nothing more than a method of harnessing the power of the internet to store your data.
Instead of storing data locally on your own computer hard drive (or even a local network server), you are storing it on a shared resource in a potentially remote location(s) and accessing it though the internet.
Although many may think of the “cloud” as lacking a location, the data is in fact stored in a physical location accessed with minimal management control.
It would be nearly impossible to run a law firm without using cloud computing. Many basic programs associated with the legal profession and business management have transitioned to cloud-based applications. As such, we must recognize that many of the services and programs used daily in law firms are cloud computing services and consider our ethical obligations in connection with those services.
The following are examples of cloud storage at use in many law firms:
- Hosted email
- Legal research
- Practice management software
- Billing and accounting software
- Document management
- Discovery/litigation support software
- Raw data storage
It is imperative that attorneys understand where they are using the cloud so that they can consider their ethical obligations. Additionally, an understanding of the services in use in general business and personal matters will result in better service to clients.
Cloud computing is an ethics issue because data comprised of your client’s confidential information is being entrusted to a third-party. When handing over client information to a third-party, an attorney must understand the associated risks and the benefits.
Read the full paper below, including a simple six-step process to ensure you’re complying with the obligation of reasonable care when it comes to cloud computing: