It is certainly arguable that the U.S. government favors the welfare of its corporations over the welfare of its citizens. In a twist of poetic justice, its blatant disregard for the rights of its citizens is dealing a blow to the gut of one of its newest and most promising industries, cloud computing.
As it becomes more and more clear that U.S. surveillance programs don’t limit their insatiable appetite for data to U.S. citizens, “data sovereignty laws” are being enacted by governments around the world. These laws require that multi-national corporations doing business in a particular country store their citizens information in that country. Some countries may even strengthen these laws in the near future, covering data in motion as well as data at rest. In short, these governments do not trust the surveillance programs of the United States and are acting to protect their citizens. (What a concept,right?)
Cloud computing providers such as Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS are not at all structured to support this turn of events. Far from it. Rather, they are designed to replicate data around the world into their various data centers in order to provide fast performance. These data centers exist in relatively few countries, selected for a combination of proximity to population centers and to the Internet backbone.
The effect of all this is not just a blow to cloud computing providers. By requiring multi-national corporations (read: “U.S. multi-national corporations”) to keep an individual’s data in the country of their citizenship is a very costly proposition. It may make doing business in certain countries no longer financially feasible.
Congratulations, U.S. government. The long arm of the NSA has shot many of your corporations and a promising new industry in the foot. Cheers!