Skip to main content

The recent announcement that Russia is to build a ‘sovereign internet’ and that Huawei is to be blacklisted in the US are the latest examples of the balkanisation of technology. Chris Burden, Chief Commercial Officer at Memset says that this could be the start of a long-term trend. Business leaders need to consider their IT infrastructure with a stronger eye on data sovereignty.

Chris explains: “For most companies outside of regulated sectors, past concerns about data sovereignty were arranged around the level of trust in overseas countries’ environments and a desire to have a clear knowledge of where their data was stored. Having a specific place where IT leaders could visit to make sure everything was as it should be was important. However, as the use of public cloud has become more ubiquitous, the geographical whereabouts of data has become less important. This could be about to change.

In the past ten years there has been a growth of three paradigms for the internet and control of data.

  • A de-regulated, free-wheeling system in the US that favours businesses
  • An authoritarian, highly controlled internet and data surveillance exhibited by China and Russia behind – designed to give greater control to the state;
  • And a regulated, rules-based approach with the protection of the consumer at its heart, exhibited by the European Union.

However, the recent statements from the US and its blocking of Huawei, the EU’s increasingly aggressive investigations into Big Tech businesses and Russia’s move to separate its internet from the rest of the world demonstrate that the different world-views are becoming increasingly hostile to each other.

Chris continues: “The geo-political climate might seem a long way from many businesses and their decisions on where to store their data. However, things could change quickly. A growth in regulatory divergence, threats to global supply chains – which include the handling of data – and the use of technology as bargaining chips in international trade relationships could quickly have a host of ramifications for SMEs.

“Data sovereignty is important and should not just be an afterthought when appointing a cloud provider. Suppliers should be able to actively respond with a commitment to only keep data in certain jurisdictions and be able to provide evidence to their customers that they are meeting those commitments. They should also be able to easily adapt to changing sovereignty issues and adjust the storage of data easily.

“Having a clear sense of where your data is and what rules you need to abide by are not only good housekeeping but could be fundamental for the success of businesses.”