The European Commission wants IT vendors to tighten their contracting for cloud services, according to a document obtained by Reuters and excerpted in a June 19 article. As an antitrust watchdog for the European Union, the European Commission has demonstrated notable aggressiveness in challenging strategic moves by some of the biggest companies in tech, including Microsoft and Google. Those companies, in turn, have occasionally sought to use the European Commission as a weapon for their own ends; for example, in February 2012, Microsoft filed a formal complaint with the organization against Motorola Mobility and Google over patents. Many of those tech behemoths—along with any number of smaller companies—either base their business in the cloud (i.e. Google) or have increasing designs on it, as in the case of Microsoft, which has produced several new lines of products over the past few years in keeping with its “all in” cloud strategy. “The complexity and uncertainty of the legal framework for cloud services providers means that they often issue complex contracts… or agreements with extensive disclaimers,” the European Commission wrote in the paper, which Reuters claims will be published after the organization’s summer break. “Contracts often do not accept liability for data integrity, confidentiality or service continuity.” According to Reuters’ paraphrasing the rest of the document, the European Commission apparently wants to “help the industry develop model agreements on issues such as which country’s laws applied in a legal dispute between a service provider and a customer.” Whether the industry allows the European Commission to “help” in such a manner remains to be seen. Although the organization can’t reach beyond the European Union, it has demonstrated a willingness to make things interesting for companies within its territory—as with Microsoft’s Windows “browser choice screen” a few years ago. That could end up impacting IT vendors’ cloud strategies and competition.   Image: Ersler Dmitry/