Software industry group SIIA said policymakers should not specifically legislate cloud computing. Above, Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about the music component of iCloud at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 6, 2011. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

The industry group, which comprises about 500 software and information companies, said that policymakers should allow sector-specific bills — such as HIPAA, which governs the privacy and security health data — to apply to cloud computing. The policymakers should instead focus on promoting open standards for national and international privacy and data security, the group said.

On the issue of security, a common concern for those wary of the centralized, off-site nature of cloud storage, the SIIA argues that cloud computing actually affords companies a higher level of data security.

“By centralizing data storage and governance,” the group writes, “it can provide better security at a lower cost than trying to protect data in many dispersed locations.”

David LeDuc, the organization’s senior director of public policy, said that the group spoke to many of its members and found that much of the hesi­ta­tion to accept the cloud comes from cultural, rather than technological concerns.

“The reality is that most of the fear associated with security as it pertains to cloud computing, is that people think they’ll have less control over the systems and the information. They feel they’re relinquishing direct control of their data,” he said.

“But from talking to companies, particularly security companies, what’s been made abundantly clear is that the cloud environment is inherently safer in many aspects, including detection and remediation of security problems.”

In addition to its policy recommendations, the SIIA has also taken pains to explain the basics of cloud computing, which can be a difficult concept to grasp. That confusion, in turn, can keep businesses from fully weighing the pros and cons of cloud computing, the group said.

“Mainly, we did the paper because what we experienced was a lot of uncertainty, confusion and misunderstanding,” LeDuc said. “We took the approach to keep it very simple: to explain what ‘the cloud’ is and what it isn’t, to help to convey the evolution of what is and isn’t taking place. We’re hopeful that this is a useful addition.”