We can only agree with Ravi Menon, a speaker at the FinTech Festival in Singapore when he said that most data should not be localized. Localizing data will do for ecommerce and global trade what localizing football would do for that sport.
The only surprising thing about this story is that a FinTech Festival is actually a thing. You have to wonder who the headline band would be (Pink Floyd, Money?). Then again, they would be playing to an audience of 40,000, so who are we to judge?
The unsurprising thing about this localizing data issue is, once again, the sense of deja vue that proceeds it like a bow wave of inevitable red tape and political posturing.
The whole point, surely, about globalization and ecommerce and competition is that it should be easier for companies to do business anywhere in the world, without this extra layer of red tape.
Even in telecoms billing, years ago, companies such as Kenan Systems were struggling with regulations that restricted where data can be stored and processed. They were an American company and when they did a deal in Switzerland, say, they had the added cost and complexity of working out to keep the data local, while using the processing power that was sitting in the US.
In the age where Amazon, well anyone, can trade anywhere in the world and yet pay tax where they wish (wait, that is just Amazon and the Gang), surely storing and processing data in a specific place makes no sense.
Of course, where national security is involved, data should be guarded in a Fort Knox like environment.
But information that relates to what someone has bought from a company that trades seamlessly and globally should be stored wherever is the most secure, most accessible and, well, cheapest.
Part of the problem is a trend towards Governments trying to take control of the internet itself. Whether this happens is for another discussion but a solution to where data can be stored must be found before all of that takes shape (it will resemble a lava lamp as tech giants and Governments fight it out).
It is a tough thing for us to say that we need standards, but Menon is right – we need standards. If we do not get standards then the impact will indeed be the same as abolishing all trade agreements and blundering around in the dark.
Then walking two blocks to watch your local football team fight it out with the neighboring town.