That could be quite an inquiry as the debate is still open about how to actually define cloud computing in the first place.
The investigation should raise some concerns with the enterprise community. Such an investigation could cover aspects of Internet communications that have been in use for years.
How would the FTC distinguish between the rights of the consumer and businesses that also use cloud computing services? What regulations would drift into the enterprise sector?
Any service provider could be viewed as part of the investigation under such a broad umbrella. The obvious parties would include Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace and the other large cloud computing services.
According toThe Hill, the investigation surfaced in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In the filing, The FTC recognizes the cost savings of cloud computing but has concerns about information being stored remotely:
"However, the storage of data on remote computers may also raise privacy and security concerns for consumers," wrote David Vladeck, who helms the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau.
This statement is puzzling. People have been storing their data remotely since the early 1990s on services that predate the social networks.
The intent of the inquiry is to protect consumers privacy. But the repercussions of such a broad investigation will also have reverberations throughout the enterprise community if the inquiry is not narrowed.
According to The Hill, the FTC is holding a roundtable Jan. 28 to focus on privacy protections. It will include specific discussions about cloud computing, identity management, mobile computing and social networking.