When it comes to data, location is everything.

Mattias Ström takes a look outside his French office window. The CEO of Evroc said, “Look at all the wonderful roads and bridges here.”

Hundreds of years after its completion, our work is still visible. We are now entrusting our nation’s most vital infrastructure to foreign firms.

He is referring to the computer systems, programs, server farms, and communication networks that keep contemporary businesses running smoothly.

In Europe, people are becoming more and more worried about their data and technological independence or digital sovereignty.

Examples of this include Europe’s reliance on American cloud service providers like Amazon and Microsoft for distant computing and data storage.

Having client data from Europe hosted on a cloud service based in the United States might lead to legal complications.

However, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the United States have extensive access to data thanks to the country’s legal system.

This tension was highlighted in May when Facebook was hit with a record €1.2 billion (£1 billion) punishment for failing to adequately protect personal information being transferred from the European Union to the United States.

Mattias Ström plans to establish a pan-European, hyper scale cloud service.

Mr. ström adds that even though the data center is located in Europe, the American authorities have the right to access any material stored in an American cloud.

We are opposed to any government outside of Europe having access to data belonging to European citizens or businesses.

Mr. Strom is the company’s namesake and CEO of Stockholm-based Evroc.

A chance to build what the company calls Europe’s first “sovereign hyper-scale cloud” is something the company is excited about.

That makes it subject to European legislation and large enough to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform in the United States. According to Synergy Research Group, they control 65% of the global cloud business between them.

With its first capital of €15 million, Evroc intends to construct eight data centers around Europe over the next five years. In 2019, Sweden will be home to the world’s first massive prototype data center.

Mr. Ström considers technical autonomy from the United States to be an essential part of national control over digital information.

We have seen the United States put export restrictions on certain components destined for China, he continues. “Suppose tensions arise between China and Taiwan. If computers become rare, what do you think will happen then? What do you believe would make the United States prioritize its own interests above those of its European allies?

Companies in the United States that store European customer data must comply with stringent European privacy regulations.

Ionos, a company specializing in cloud computing, has already positioned itself as Europe’s answer to American computer behemoths, free from the restrictions of the US Cloud Act.

In accordance with this statute, US authorities may get access to US cloud corporations’ servers located anywhere in the world.

Ionos creates all of its software in Europe, where its servers are located in a region that is completely disconnected from the United States.

Trust is key, according to Rainer Straeter, the company’s director of cloud development and digital ecosystems. “Are we really expecting the Cloud Act to affect a local mom-and-pop shop any time soon? The truth is, we have no idea. We feel a little uneasy about this “don’t know.”

A spokesman for Amazon Web Services, in response to the question of digital sovereignty, said that between July 1 and December 31, 2022, no data requests resulted in the disclosure of data kept outside the US to the US government.

“AWS will fight any law enforcement request for customer data from any governmental entities if the request contradicts EU legislation, is overbroad, or we otherwise have any acceptable reasons to do so,” the company said.

However, European companies are still working on developing competitive cloud services.

Ionos is one of 377 organizations involved in the Gaia-X project, which intends to create a federated system for connecting cloud service providers so that data may travel freely between them without compromising the privacy or security of the data’s owners.

The European cloud providers, according to Mr. Straeter, “cannot create everything on their own to compete with AWS.” The existing means are insufficient. We need to adopt a European approach, where we create standards and are a little more ingenious than everyone else. With a unified ecosystem across [European] cloud providers, We’d be able to go head-to-head with cloud service giants like AWS, GCP, and Azure.

After a string of disasters, including the financial crisis of 2007–2009, COVID-19, and the conflict in Ukraine, Mr. Straeter thinks it’s crucial for Europe to have a robust infrastructure.

Mr. Straeter claims that federated networks are more robust and reliable. The Internet’s naming system for domains has informed us of this. It’s dependable due to the excellent distribution of its strength.

How a nation or area strikes a balance between safeguarding its residents and allowing for free expression online is also an aspect of its digital sovereignty. The UK government is now debating the Online Safety Bill, which would oblige social media sites to swiftly delete unlawful material, impose age checks, and prevent minors from seeing hazardous information.

Mark Weston, partner and head of technology law at Hill Dickinson, adds, “Some of this is alarming to US corporations, who are accustomed to working under the shadow of the First Amendment.”

As long as you’re not directly harming someone else, the First Amendment guarantees your right to speak and do anything you choose. The United Kingdom is asserting its “digital sovereignty,” arguing that “this is damaging our people, and we want social media businesses to act this way while they are in our territory.”

He claims that people are still protected by UK and EU data rules even if their information is handled in a foreign country.

If you store the personal information of people in the United Kingdom or the European Union on servers in the United States, you will be subject to laws in both those regions, as Mr. Weston explains.

Simon Yeoman, CEO of cloud provider Fasthosts, suggests that individuals and businesses worried about their data’s digital sovereignty should also consider the number of organizations with access to that data.

According to him, problems usually arise somewhere in the supply chain. A managed service provider in Birmingham, UK, for example, may use a data center in the United Kingdom but back up to Google. To determine your level of independence, he advises asking follow-up questions about your supply chain.

If you’re concerned that the US government may easily access your company’s data, Barry Cashman has some words of comfort for you.

He now works for the American company Veritas Technologies, which handles data for thousands of businesses across the globe.

While it’s understandable that European Union (EU) companies and citizens would be wary of having their data sent outside of the EU to a country with a different privacy regime, it’s worth noting that the recently enacted EU-US Data Framework does provide safeguards for the use of personal data by US national security agencies.

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