A recent forum held by Brookings in Washington, D.C. gathered industry experts to discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with cloud computing. One of the most prominent conclusions the group developed was the need for the federal government to increase its cloud computing legislation.

Greg Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the crowd that cloud computing can offer remote access to data and collaboration while also reducing costs. However, if businesses are going to reap these rewards, the government needs to update its 24-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The outdated legislation gives law enforcement officials the right to obtain data stored on a cloud upon acquiring a subpoena. Accessing information stored on a personal computer requires a warrant.

"The law shouldn't discriminate between the privacy of something I store locally and something I store remotely," Nojeim said.

While law enforcement was not represented in the panel, Nojiem said the government is reticent to change laws because quick access to data is important in identifying and capturing criminals.

While the U.S. government avoids committing to any sort of legislative shift, the panel pointed to new policies enacted in the European Union. These laws create a firm sense of data security on the cloud by matching privacy laws for standard computing solutions.

Despite the improvements to the EU's policies, companies are still trying to keep their data on U.S. soil. According to the panel, businesses are wary of the shifting data protection laws throughout the world, and are pushing cloud vendors to keep all data within the country.

Despite the overwhelming interest in increased protection, many organizations have a clearer perspective on U.S. jurisdictions and policies, and subsequently want to keep data close to home. This tendency to keep data in the country, however, has left companies pushing even harder for improved legislation.

According to a recent "Issues in Technology Innovation" report by Brookings, cloud security tends to focus on factors including confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Businesses want cloud vendors to keep data away from prying eyes, ensuring that business information is confidential at all times. They also expect cloud parameters to match those agreed to in the service level agreement, never losing their integrity. The availability of cloud-based systems is also crucial, as companies want freedom to access their data at any time without having to worry about reliability issues.