Traditionally, the US has been the industry leader when it comes to Web hosting providers. But there are growing concerns, since the Patriot Act was passed on October 26, 2001, and because of that, online privacy is not considered by most experts to be secured in the United States. To get a better understanding, one only has to look at a very recent example where data thought to be protected but was actually available under the scope of the Patriot Act.
Europe, long known to have strict security and privacy requirements, has traditionally been a location for businesses to store their data and it was thought that European datacentres were protected from the Patriot Act. In June of 2011, Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, confirmed that “Office 365 cloud data stored at European datacentres could still be handed over to American officials,”and went as far as saying that “Microsoft cannot provide guarantees and neither can any other company.” The issue is based on the fact that Microsoft’s headquarters are located in the US, and it is obligated to abide by American regulations, meaning that any data stored on their servers is subject to seizure and inspection.
Because of this, many businesses are now looking for alternativesincluding “offshore hosting,” often scaled out to include Third World locations where the perceived notion is that these offshore marketplaces will prevent their data from being captured under the rules of the Patriot Act. But the notion is often flawed as offshore hosting is often priced well above their US counterparts and they’re often located in areas with a poor technological infrastructure — meaning slow speed, and slow resolution of technical problems.
So what choices does a business owner have to protect their customer’s data and their business? Staying with a US hosting company is getting risky from a privacy point of view, and Europe no longer provides the safe haven it used to. More and more businesses are turning to their neighbors to the north. Canadian web hosting companies — like Canadian Web Hosting Ltd. (www.canadianwebhosting.com) — are located in areas that have comparable capacity to deliver infrastructure solutions and premium web hosting services.
Cities like Vancouver and Toronto have excellent staffing and infrastructure, comparable high-speed connectivity to major US population centres, and in some cases it is better than popular US hosts located in the major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or Dallas. In addition, service providers like Canadian Web Hosting Ltd. are now beginning to offer pricing for services like Cloud Hosting, Dedicated Servers, VPS and shared hosting at rates that are very competitive. So if Canadian web hosting and US web hosting services are similar, what separates a Canadian web hosting company from their counterparts?
To fully understand this, you have to first off look at how Canadians view privacy. If you read the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s website (a government website), you will see the following statement, “Privacy has long been considered a fundamental right in Canada. The Government of Canada is recognized internationally as a leader in the creation of privacy laws and policies.” Then, they go on to say that the chances of personal information being accessed under the Patriot Act are “remote” and that to date the “federal government is not aware of any such cases where information about a Canadian was accessed.“
Moreover, Canadian privacy laws protect individual Canadians. One recent example occurred when The Privacy Commissioner of Canada forced Facebook to amend their privacy practices and policies for not only Facebook users in Canada but around the world because Facebook breached the Canadian privacy laws. This example shows the depth of the matter and how all companies including Facebook need to improve their privacy practices.
What really separates Canadian web hosting companies from their counterparts is the safeguards that the Government of Canada has implemented to protect personal information. The primary method has been through the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), which requires web hosting organizations engaged in commercial activities to obtain individuals’ consent to the collection, or disclosure of their personal information. As an example, Canadian Web Hosting Ltd. maintains full compliance with PIPEDA and ensures that the following privacy requirements are met:
Consent must be garnered for collection of personal information
Collection of personal information limited to reasonable purposes
Limits use and disclosure of personal information
Limits access to personal information
Stored personal information must be accurate and complete
Designates the role of the Privacy Officer
Policies and procedures for breaches of privacy
Measures for resolution of complaints
Special rules for employment relationships
Further than that, provincial governments have implemented secondary standards that say that even if disclosure is permitted through PIPEDA, regional statutes such as the Business Records Protection Act (Ontario), which essentially says that business records cannot be removed from Ontario.
Until the US government provides additional clarity into the uses of the Patriot Act, web hosting customers who are concerned about privacy and security of their data should look north of the border. Companies like Canadian Web Hosting Ltd. who are 100% Canadianowned andoperated can deliver industry-best web hosting services, but are also contractually obligated through regulations to protect the data included in their datacentre.