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Dutch government finally permitted to use public cloud

Public cloud is finally at your fingertips for Dutch public services. Previously, the Dutch government was only permitted to use private clouds because of risks concerning privacy and security


  • Kim Loohuis

Published: 02 Sep 2022 11: 45

The general public cloud market has seen huge developments in the last decade, with the Covid pandemic as an important accelerator. Cloud services have grown to be more reliable, and so are currently utilized by many citizens and businesses. The security of public cloud services has increased, and the large-scale deployment of updates and patches helps it be in an easier way than before to repair errors in software. Therefore, it had been due time and energy to revise the National Cloud Policy 2011.

The brand new policy allows Dutch government departments to utilize public cloud services. Public cloud services offer an attractive perspective for the development of a far more innovative, transparent, flexible and efficient digital government,State secretary for digitisationAlexandra van Huffelen wrote to the Dutch Lower House. Low initial costs and pay-per-use make the general public cloud a transparent solution.

Moreover, the risks are actually more manageable than before, because of large investments by public cloud providers in securing their services. That is much more compared to the government is willing or in a position to spend money on information security itself.

Hence, the street to public clouds is finally free for Dutch public services, albeit under strict conditions.

Conditions for use incorporate, for instance, the processing of personal data. Public clouds will never be allowed for use for basic registry, nor for the storage and processing of special personal data. All storage and processing of personal data must comply with the overall Data Protection Regulation.

Furthermore, civil servants aren’t permitted to store state secrets in virtually any public cloud. Neither are they likely to use cloud services from countries having an active cyber programme that’s aimed against Dutch interests. Every Dutch government department itself is in charge of assessing and monitoring any relevant threat of utilizing a public cloud service. The Dutch Ministry of Defence still remains excluded from the brand new policy, and can not be permitted to use public cloud services.

Despite the fact that Van Huffelen is quite positive concerning the new national cloud policy, she actually is aware that risks remain even indirectly. For instance, should a US cloud services provider be acquired by way of a Chinese state-owned enterprise, the usage of that one public cloud would no more be permitted by Dutch public services.

All departments formulate their very own cloud policy and strategy, in line with the new National Cloud Policy. Those bodies of the federal government that not form area of the civil service are requested to check out this advice. Furthermore, departments must incorporate an exit strategy within their contracts with public cloud providers to ensure that, in the event of the acquisition example above, they’re assured of immediate cancellation of the service. This exit strategy also needs to indicate the way the data will undoubtedly be returned and destroyed privately of the provider.

The digital world isn’t without risks, said Van Huffelen. Not if we’d a completely self-managed cloud.

Based on the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, 53% of Dutch businesses used the cloud, which 39% used a public cloud.

Van Huffelen wrote in her letter that those companies are also demanding a higher amount of security and privacy. The Dutch central bank (DNB) has pioneered in managing cloud risks in the financial sector.

Today, 49% of Dutch banks utilize the cloud, which 38% work with a public cloud. Almost 60% of healthcare organisations in holland work with a private cloud, and 43% of these also work with a public cloud.

Moreover, research demonstrates over 50% of government organisations worldwide use office applications from the cloud. These numbers were a significant accelerator to revise the Dutch National Cloud Policy of 2011.

Van Huffelen plans to start out evaluating the brand new Cloud Policy from 2023.

Read more onto it for government and public sector

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