UK watchdog teams up with cloud providers to improve their services

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been blowing its consumer protection trumpet, announcing it has again been successful in securing commitments from cloud storage providers to help protect UK citizens from things such as mid-term price hikes or changes to contracts.

The CMA is essentially addressing unfair practices which could potentially breach consumer law, and has now got the cooperation of four more storage providers – Dropbox, Google, BT and Mozy – to address concerns on a number of fronts.

These include giving a reasonable amount of notice before making any significant changes to a contract or subscription charge, and ensuring that if customers don’t like proposed changes, they are given clear details about how to cancel the service (and how to claim any subsequent refund due).

Greater transparency 

Other areas to be tightened up include greater transparency and more notice when it comes to the automatic renewal of contracts, and stopping situations where a provider might suspend or cancel a service without giving any reason.

Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director for Consumer Enforcement, commented: “People increasingly rely on cloud storage as a safe and convenient place to keep family photos, music and important documents, so it is vital that they are treated fairly and are not hit by unexpected changes to price or storage levels.”

The CMA also secured commitments from three other cloud storage providers back in May, namely Dixons Carphone, JustCloud and Livedrive, and it’s working on talking to more industry players.

According to a survey conducted by the organisation, no less than 30% of adults in the UK use cloud storage for their personal files.

Update: Dropbox has been in touch to say that it has been actively working with the CMA to ensure fair terms and conditions for its customers, and that there have been no findings of unfairness against the company.

The cloud storage provider issued a statement to say: "Dropbox strives to ensure that our terms of service are transparent and easy for our users to understand. We were pleased to work with the CMA to further improve our terms as part of their industry-wide review into cloud storage."

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).