In a blog post on the AWS site, Amazon Web Services Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr announced that Amazon Web Services will be bringing their cloud computing service to Canada sometime this year.
This is potentially big news for edtech in Canada where our privacy laws have hindered the use of cloud based services where personal data may be stored outside of the country.
These days, it’s hard to find scalable edtech infastructure and services that are not built on AWS (or other) cloud services, and having data stored outside of Canada using cloud services has traditionally been a barrier to adoption for Canadian institutions. Not a deal breaker as there are ways to mitigate and still be compliant with privacy laws through informed consent, etc. But for many, the P.I.A (Privacy Impact Assessment) is a P.I.A. and enough of a barrier that it hindered the use of cloud based services.
For an edtech example, Canvas has had very little uptake in Canada because it is built on AWS.
Of the 25 public post-secondary institutions in BC, there is only a single institution using Canvas, and they are self hosting to work around the data storage issue. With a regional offering of AWS in Canada, I would expect to see a company like Instructure bring Canvas north of the border soon, and it being a serious contender for institutions undertaking LMS reviews.
While not explicitly stated in the release that it will be compatible with all the different provincial and federal privacy laws, it’s hard to imagine Amazon rolling out services in Canada that are not as compliant as possible. Indeed, privacy compliance with federal and provincial laws would be one of the biggest selling points for the service in Canada, as PCWorld notes;
Having a dedicated Canadian region will be important for organizations that need to comply with the patchwork of regional data protection laws Canada has, which requires the storage of some types of data inside Canada, depending on where the storer is located.
Although the question of “does legislation actually make a difference where data is stored in an interconnected world?” hangs in the air, with many seeing these regulations as doing nothing by providing the illusion of data protection for citizens.
And who knows, the TPP may get ratified in Canada and then it is a different data protection game altogether as the TPP clause on free flowing data between member countries would put it at direct odds with provincial & federal privacy laws. And while edtech might win with the TPP in that we get better access to more cloud services, I have real concerns at what the cost to the rest of our society might be.
Shortly after I posted this, Scott Leslie tweeted in response to this post that even if the servers are located in Canada, there is still a question of where the parent company is located.
@clintlalondehttps://t.co/utgasaoFpw leg was changed in 2004 following this report, but I’ve never had confirmation that concern for…
— Scott Leslie (@sleslie) January 20, 2016
Photo:Sensitive Data sign, Freegeek, Portland, Oregon, USA by Cory Doctorow CC-BY-SA