STOA, European Parliamentary Research Service, Potential and Impacts of Cloud Computing Services and Social Network Websites

Document’s Executive Summary:

“Cloud computing and social network websites (SNS) are part of the same societal transformation prominently exemplifying a paradigm shift stating that “the network is the computer”. While cloud computing includes a variety of technical concepts, SNS represent a broad scope of services and applications addressing mostly end-users. Interrelations are particularly given as regards privacy and security challenges. This is also a core part of this report as privacy is among the heavily debated concepts of our contemporary societies – highlighted in particular by SNS.

The report is structured in four main parts: The first part (Sections 1-3) gives a broad overview on the evolution of SNS describing the main stages in the development process, the major factors determining the current state-of-the-art including insights into user motivations. Section 3 presents the main driving factors determining the current SNS, their main characteristics as well as core functionality of SNS. Based on these elaborations the second part (Section 4) gives an overview on the spectrum of identified societal impacts, discusses the role of SNS as a form of a (digital) semi-public space, as well as their potential for political participation and knowledge production. Section 5 analyses in more depth the privacy implications of SNS including some technical aspects and privacy-by-design concepts. The final Section 6 summarizes the key findings and draws conclusions referring to possible options to address the challenges identified.”

The document can be downloaded at: http://www.europarl…