This summer, the International Standards Organization (ISO) adopted a new voluntary standard governing the processing of personal data in the cloud — ISO 27018. Although this recent development has gone mostly unnoticed by the technology and media press to date, the new cloud standard provides a useful privacy compliance framework for cloud services providers that addresses key processor (and some controller) obligations under EU data protection laws.
ISO 27018 builds on existing information security standards, such as ISO 27001 and ISO 27002, which set out general information security principles (e.g., securing offices and facilities, media handling, human resources security, etc.). By contrast, ISO 27018 is tailored to cloud services specifically and is the first privacy-specific international standard for the cloud. ISO 27018 seeks to address such issues as keeping customer information confidential and secure and preventing personal information from being processed for secondary purposes (e.g., advertising or data analytics) without the customer’s approval. ISO 27018 also responds directly to EU regulators’ calls for the introduction of an auditable compliance framework for cloud processors to increase trust in the online environment (see the European Commission’s 2012 Cloud Strategy here).