Transparency and the CLOUD Act: The Importance of Evolving Transparency Reports
As organizations navigate the rapid and constant change of digital transformation, they look for vendors who can deliver and partners they can trust to guide them on the journey. Transparency is undoubtedly one of the most critical aspects to building customer relationships and trust in the digital era where the notion of “implicit trust” is gone. At Cisco, in order to earn our customers’ explicit trust, we’ve made a long-term investment in tools and processes that deliver transparency, including our semi-annual report on demands for customer data we’ve received from law enforcement and national security agencies around the world. As the legal and regulatory environment around governmental demands for data has changed – and as Cisco itself grows and changes – we are committed to evolving the data and format of this report to better address concerns and questions our customers may have.
With that in mind, today’s edition of our Transparency Report has three new additions. First, we have included request for non-customer data. This is important to give a richer understanding of the types of interaction global governments and law enforcement entities are engaging us with, by going beyond the customer owned data, to expand to include data about our customers. Second, we have included explicit counting of emergency requests for any type of data. The emergency provision allows for emergency access to data when we believe disclosing will prevent imminent death or serious physical harm to an individual and will be called out distinctly going forward.
Finally, and most notably, we are also including a new category to call out requests for customer data Cisco has received in relation to the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (also known as the CLOUD Act). Enacted into United States (U.S.) law this spring, this data will provide an additional level of detail to help further characterize how governments are engaging us and our customers. As a digital enabler in our data-centric economy, we know the protection of data is a key element to win customer trust. Being upfront about requests for data helps create an environment in which everyone can easily do business and know their data is safeguarded. Just as we reinforced last month, Cisco is committed to including CLOUD Act requests in our transparency reports in order to maintain our commitment to our Trust Principals. Without already having this reporting practice in place, especially as the regulatory landscape shifts; it would take a company time and money – and likely some scrambling – to put it into action without a lapse in service.
Not only have we added new categories to our Transparency Report– such as the CLOUD Act – but we’ve also made enhancements to make it easier for our customers to read and interpret these requests. Our new format also breaks down how the numbers in the report are derived. To us, it is much more than a ‘check box,’ it is an opportunity to give our customers the clarity that is and will continue to be required in a data-centric economy.
The last example I will share is how we regularly integrate company acquisitions into our Transparency Reports. It’s no secret that Cisco is known for acquisitions. In most cases, acquiring multiple organizations a year. There are many reasons why we do this; it can be to bring on new talent, technical capabilities or even new business models. As these new companies and technologies are integrated into the Cisco team and our portfolio of solutions, it is imperative to us this happens with minimal business disruption and customer dissatisfaction. When these organizations join Cisco, they also take on our seriousness for transparency. For instance, earlier this year Cisco completed its acquisition of BroadSoft, which means BroadSoft’s data requests will get integrated into the next version of our report (February 2019). Whether we grow organically or inorganically; having this reporting practice already in existence means business as usual and no disruption to the customer experience. While growth by acquisition may change the appearance of our report – like an increase in numbers or the addition of new columns – our commitment to transparency will remain unchanged.
We know our customers and partners are going through continuous transitions and regularly dealing with complexity. Nothing is going to stop change, it is constant. Which is why it is more important now than ever to give our customers the stability of transparency. Through our actions, our message to our customers is that even as the world changes around us, our commitment to transparency and earning their trust is unwavering.
For more about our long-term commitment to transparency check out our Trust Center.