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Jurisdiction - where in the world is that VM?

James Urquhart has an interesting post on a topic that's fascinated me for a long time -- namely, under what legal jurisdiction does a computed "transaction" take place?

The problem first came to my attention (sometime during the last ice age) with the advent of ATM machines with services offered by national banking and credit card concerns. If I withdrew money or paid a credit card bill at the ATM, exactly where (for the purposes of the relevant legal jurisdiction) did the transaction take place? Banking laws being what they are, the industry got around a host of problems by declaring an ATM machine to be a "branch bank", in order to make sure that the geographic location at which the financial transaction took place made it clear for purposes of law.

The days of dumb terminals and thin client computing brought with it a boatload of jurisdictional issues. And now, cloud computing and virtual server migration add to the puzzle. It's a great problem on which to reflect. James' discussion is well grounded and presents the salient issues in a very nice way.

The Wisdom of Clouds: "Follow the law" computing

A few days ago, Nick Carr worked his usual magic in analyzing Bill Thompson's keen observation that every element of "the cloud" eventually boils down to a physical element in a physical location with real geopolitical and legal influences. This problem was first brought to my attention in a blog post by Leslie Poston noting that the Canadian government has refused to allow public IT projects to use US-based hosting environments for fear of security breaches authorized via the Patriot Act.

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Reader Comments (1)

Good points. I just think "where do the bits sit?" and that usually points to the correct answer. One of the reasons AWS has European data centers is because of the Patriot Act.
Jun 19, 2008 at 2:10PM | Unregistered Commenterbruce fryer

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