The EU is very, very sensitive to the privacy rights of individuals. Its rules on Data Protection only allow the transfer of personal data to non-EU countries that meet the EU’s data protection standard.
To put it baldly, the U.S. isn’t one of those countries. Although the U.S. and European countries work to smooth out differences, Europe’s privacy laws have a big impact on U.S.-based multinational corporations.
Consequences to U.S.-based companies can be severe. In 2007 Tyco Healthcare was fined 30,000 Euros for transferring employee data from its French subsidiary to its U.S. headquarters without explicit permission from France. In 2008 a British regulator issued a whopping £640,000 fine to a British subsidiary of U.S.-based AIG. The subsidiary apparently failed to prove that it would protect data privacy once the data was transferred out of the EU. And in 2013 Spain levied a 900,000 euro fine against Google for mishandling Google users’ personal data and French regulator CNIL fined Google 150,000 Euros for not observing French privacy laws.
The EU is obviously not kidding around. Yet many cloud service providers serving American customers only maintain one data center in the U.S. This means that a multi-national company with interests around the world may find themselves in violation of data residency laws if they use that service provider.
A Better Way
If your business has global reach, then a service provider with a couple of data centers in the U.S. isn’t going to cut it. But you don’t want your business to run afoul of EU privacy directives, especially since the EU has drafted stricter Data Protection regulations. What do you do?
You look to leading cloud providers that don’t run scared of EU directives but incorporate compliance within global cloud offerings. These providers offer their customers redundant data centers in multiple locations worldwide that are compliant with national privacy laws.
Customers with cross-regional data can specify local data centers for their cloud backups without giving up the cloud’s benefits. Local data centers not only protect you against privacy issues, they are also more efficient because the data makes fewer hops. And elastic storage technologies let customers add storage-on-demand in a specific location.
If you have a global business you can operate safely in the cloud. Just know what you’re doing, and be doubly sure that your cloud provider knows it too.
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