Thursday, November 23, 2017

Brexit, GDPR and Donald Trump: Why you should pay attention to what’s around you as Balkanisation of data strikes in

Data Economy sits down with Ken Bagnall, CEO, Clean Communications and executive council member at CompTIA to discuss the shifting political landscape transforming the tech space.

No one can be indifferent to the last 12 months, not only in the technology space but also on the global geo-political stage.

From an unlikely Brexit vote to the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, the technology sector has felt the shockwaves of these events and more is set to come in the following months.

Data Economy (DE) speaks to Ken Bagnall (KB), CEO, Clean Communications and executive council member at CompTIA to discuss more on how data and cloud could be impacted by such events in the near future.


DE: Why should the cloud industry not close its eyes to what happens in the political world? 

KB: Nearly every cloud based service was set up to be able to provide service to customers globally. Many see themselves as trans-national.

However regional politics will try to provide a certain amount of protectionism to its local industry. If that combines with safer privacy laws that is well and good, but all tech companies need to be constantly aware of changes that occur and how they will be affected by them.


DE: What are the consequences for the tech industry around Brexit, GDPR regulations and Donald Trump’s threat of increased tariffs for imports? 

KB: If the UK adopts the GDPR regulations verbatim then Brexit should not have too great an impact. The potential is there for the UK to have a separate fork of data laws in the future which could affect international services but that’s too far into the future to speculate.

GDPR is a mixed bag as there are many opportunities lying in the legislation. Any type of compliance regulation inevitably has an amount of opportunity in it for tech companies. Dealing with the regulation on their own customer’s data going through their services will be a challenge though.

Some changes in the role of data controller and processor will mean tech companies have to give a lot of thought into the changes they need to make.

Donald Trump’s threat of increased tariffs on imports will have less effect.


DE: You have previously mentioned Balkanisation of data. What do you mean by Balkanisation of data? 

KB: If the laws around treatment of data in each political area are different enough it results in cloud and SaaS providers having to create different services for different regions. If the region with different laws is small enough it becomes difficult to service and they may lose some choices that they have had in the past.

This break up of services due to local laws and its potential for continuous fragmentation is what I mean by Balkanisation of data. It could be a data retention law or a data privacy law, but it is the effect on the cloud service that is referred to in the term.


DE: Is there a real risk of the internet being broken down into silos? 

KB: The fact that companies already have to set up multiple services for different regional laws is an issue now.


DE: What sort of impact would those silos have for a) large corporations b) start-ups? 

KB: For established cloud based services it may mean major architectural changes to deal with new realities. This could be expensive depending on how much change is required.

For start-ups, it may help in the very early stages as they may be able to get a foothold in one market easier, however it will have a major impact on their ability to scale into multiple markets.


DE: What sort of technology/moves organisations and providers need do to limit the effect of segregation? 

KB: One obvious thing to do is to apply the strictest law across all your customers from an early stage. Another possibility is to build platforms with those potential silos in place and segregate your data for each region as it applies now.

There is of course a risk associated with this which is the possible scenario after an event like Brexit that a region does not adopt the law you think they will.

If Britain decided to adopt a law that was more restrictive than the GDPR then service providers would have to look at another potential silo instead of having one for all European customers including the UK.