The best defense against surveillance in the cloud is strong locks, says Amazon CTO Werner Vogels

Although fear of government surveillance has made Amazon’s job more challenging when it comes to selling the benefits of cloud data storage, Amazon’s chief technology officer Werner Vogels told attendees at the Structure conference in San Francisco that the company continues to see strong growth in demand both inside and outside the United States, and it is responding to customers concerns about surveillance by stressing two things: strong encryption and the control that Amazon and its AWS infrastructure give to users.

Vogels described how Neelie Kroes, digital commissioner for the European Commission, said in a recent speech that no matter what regulations countries have around privacy or surveillance, hackers and spies will always try to get around them, and so the best defense isn’t a good lawyer, it’s a good lock — and Amazon “has the best locks,” Vogels said. “The point is that the customer needs to be in control of their data, and we give them full confidence that no one is going to access their data but themselves.”

Revelations about surveillance by the NSA and other security agencies did lead to some talk among European customers about the need for a European version of the cloud, but Vogels said much of that has dissipated. Amazon has continued to try and send the message that its systems provide as much or more protection as anything a country could build on its own. “I have yet to see a privacy regulation that cannot be met by just good architecture principles,” the Amazon CTO said.
Photo by Jakub Mosur

Structure 2014 ticker