Access and Feeds

Sovereign Cloud: Key to Secure Local Control of Data or Threat to Cloud Business Operating at Scale?

By Dick Weisinger

Cloud data sovereignty is the idea that data should abide by the laws of the country where the data originated from and is associated with. Under data sovereignty, data associated with citizens of Germany, for example, should reside on storage devices located in Germany, or minimally on storage devices in an EU location.

National governments are increasingly concerned with how tech companies collect, use, and store data that originates within the borders of their countries. Their complaints are primarily against tech companies, many or most of which are American. There is a worry that there is a loss of control of data and a lack of ability to ensure that sovereign data is treated as private and subject to strict security measures.

Michael Pezzullo, Australia’s Secretary of Home Affairs, said that “the ability of certain adversaries, some of whom are state adversaries, some of whom are criminal adversaries, to penetrate that data…is of deep concern to government.”

Pezzullo said that “what we would have in mind here, I suspect, to be very candid, would not be attractive necessarily to those companies [American high tech companies]. Because how they make their money is, frankly, by moving the data around to the cheapest car park of data, which has the lowest regard for security but the highest regard to data as a commodity. And that’s a perfect illustration of the tension here between the private commercial interest and the public interest.”

Countries have enacted regulations which are beginning to make sovereign data a necessary condition for tech companies to do business with their citizens and businesses. The US enacted the CLOUD Act in 2018, China has the Cybersecurity Act from 2017. And the EU has enacted what is known as GDPR in 2018.

As could be expected, tech giants have tried to push back. An Amazon AWS spokesperson said that sovereignty plans “remove many of the fundamental benefits of cloud computing for customers – they restricts freedom of choice, flexibility, and ability to scale globally, without increasing security.”

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