Google Pushes Back Against Data Localization

JANUARY 24, 2014, 6:28 PM  2 Comments

Google Pushes Back Against Data Localization

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER

The big tech companies have put forth a united front when it comes to pushing back against the government after revelations of mass surveillance. But their cooperation goes only so far.

Microsoft this week suggested that it would deepen its existing efforts to allow customers to store their data near them and outside the United States. Google, for its part, has been fighting this notion of so-called data localization.

“If data localization and other efforts are successful, then what we will face is the effective Balkanization of the Internet and the creation of a ‘splinternet’ broken up into smaller national and regional pieces, with barriers around each of the splintered Internets to replace the global Internet we know today,” Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security, told a congressional panel in November.

Data crisscrosses the globe among data centers, and companies often store redundant copies of data in different places in case of natural disaster or technical failure. In most cases, companies cannot even pinpoint precisely where certain data is located.

At the same time, the United States government is tapping the fiber-optic network that connects data centers worldwide, according to leaked documents. So even if data is stored outside the United States, it could be intercepted during its travels.

Still, Microsoft and other tech companies are trying to prevent foreign customers from switching to services outside the United States. In the next three years, the cloud computing industry could lose $180 billion, 25 percent of its revenue, because of such defections, according to Forrester, a  research company.

Yet even though Google faces these same risks and requests from foreign customers, its policy position is for surveillance reform instead of data localization, according to a person briefed on Google’s policy who would speak only anonymously.

Though Google at one time tried to offer customers the ability to store their data in one location in response to requests, it does not offer that feature now because it determined it was illogical, the person said. Google decided data is more secure if it is stored in multiple locations and that storing it in one location slows Google services and makes accessing the data less convenient for customers, the person said.

Mr. Salgado said a proposed law in Brazil that would require all data of Brazilian citizens and companies to be stored in the country would be so difficult to comply with that Google “could be barred from doing business in one of the world’s most significant markets.”

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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