Sunday, April 03, 2011

Overseas Data Storage

According to this article by that was published in The Sunday Mail today, the Australian Federal Government is looking to crack down on businesses saving data to the 'cloud' because of privacy concerns.  Now, this is a sensible thing, if you ask me - there are many different governments around the world who have significantly different views on the privacy and security of your data that's stored in their country.  What they are looking at doing here is helping to ensure that your business critical, sensitive data is stored in a way that means you are able to gain access to it - and have it secured - under conditions compatible with Australian Law.

One of the countries that is under the spotlight for their poor quality data protection laws is Singapore.  Singapore recognises no right to privacy of your data.  To me, that's unacceptable and I would not store our business sensitive and/or critical data in such a location.

Microsoft's BPOS/Office 365 servers for APAC are located in Singapore and Hong Kong.  The Australian Federal Government is warning us that any data stored in Singapore is protected by non-existent privacy laws.  Now, I know that the BPOS data centers are *extremely* secure facilities, but what happens if the Singaporean Government chooses to breach any agreement they have with these Data Centers and instead insist in gaining access to any data stored in them?

Unlikely to happen?  Sure.  But then, your data has no privacy protection if it is stored in Singapore.

This, to me, is yet another reason Microsoft should look at hosting a data center in Australia for their Australian BPOS/Office 365 clients.  There are already a number of businesses - especially medical and legal businesses - who cannot legally use BPOS/Office 365 as the data is not stored in Australia and is stored in a location with insufficient legal protection (as the Australian Government is saying is the case with Singapore for all Australian businesses).  I expect this list of industry segments to increase if/when the Federal Government starts to look at this, instead of leaving it up to the individual industries.

Now, my thoughts on Australia being forced to go through Telstra for access to BPOS/Office 365 is well known - I feel that Microsoft will make a lot more sales of its product when it starts treating Australia like the rest of the world and removes the sole wholesaler channel that it has given to Telstra.  Of course, if the Federal Government mandates that all business critical data be stored in a location where the privacy of this data is protected by laws equivalent to those in Australia, Microsoft will need to take a serious look at the locations of their BPOS data centers if they want to sell any product to Australian businesses.

The Outspoken Wookie


Chris Knight said...

There's also the problem that MS is subject to the Patriot Act, regardless of where the data resides, so this too is a problem. Good for homegrown cloud providers though.

Hilton Travis said...

Agreed, Chris. The PATRIOT Act (aka when I want your data, I'll say it is for National Security and you will give me your data) is definitely a point of concern for anyone who values their IP and their data.