Sven Löffler
7. December 2015 0
Digitization

The German Data “Castle” makes steady progress!

At first Edward Snowden, then the Austrian lawsuit against the “Safe Harbor” agreement and finally the verdict of the European Court. Personal data of European Internet users is not adequately protected in the USA, believes the EU Commission. But in Biere (Germany), the largest “Cloud” computer center from Deutsche Telekom, the data is indeed safe and secure.

An insightful discussion on the different handling and processing procedures of user data in the US and Europe was sparked by the revelations of the former intelligence employee Edward Snowden. He revealed the extent of surveillance activities of US security agencies, providing a strong impetus to reconsider the American Privacy Statement as well as the “Safe Harbor” agreement, which regulates the exchange of data between EU and USA.

The fate of “Safe Harbor” was finally sealed by the lawsuit filed by the Austrian lawyer Max Schrem, who claimed that the storage of Facebook user data in USA was unsecure. The European judges concurred that data centers on US soil are not sufficiently protected from US security agencies. Since 2000 until recently, data of EU citizens could be legally transferred to the US, although the US privacy policies do not comply with the EU policies. The challenge for the future now lies in redesigning the privacy agreement between USA and EU, in order to enable an adequate level of data protection on both sides.

To be fair, thinking that US companies voluntarily, without resistance, share customer data with US authorities, is wrong. However, US security agencies can indeed coerce companies to provide customer data, through court orders, sanctions, fines or even imprisonment. Recently, Microsoft refused to release data from a particular company, and is now facing a court process. To their credit, Microsoft has received support from Apple, Cisco, Verizon and AT&T, who support the position that such a direct release of customer data stands in breach of EU law. Should Microsoft lose this important court process, they along with other US companies will be faced with the critical question, as to how can they continue to guarantee data security to their global customers.

For companies, it is now about escaping the direct access of data by US agencies. Thus companies like Google, Microsoft (news release dated 12/12/2015), Apple and Amazon are increasingly building data centers on European soil. Ever since the verdict against “Safe Harbor”, the Telekom data center in Biere has emerged as a reference model for data security. The reasons are plausible! First, the data center is protected against external intruders by a variety of physical defenses, such as multiple secure driveways, fences, palm scanners, safety glass, and cameras. The access into the data center building is actually regulated over a secure bridge – one can literally speak of a data “castle”! Furthermore, Germany has a clear location advantage in data protection – the German Federal Data Protection Act is one of the strictest laws on informational self-determination across the world. Deutsche Telekom has set principles for its Big Data solutions, that demonstrate that data privacy is respected in all relevant aspects. One of the principles declares, for example, that use of personal data requires the legal permission of the person concerned. This is not the case in USA!

The Telekom data center offers US companies the “Made in Germany” tag for their data, bringing it under German law. Cisco, VMware, Salesforce and Huawei have already accepted this promising offer. They are building their own computer servers in Biere, with Telekom taking over the operation, maintenance and administration. By thus limiting the reach of US security agencies, customer data is made secure on German soil.

Companies are able to increase efficiency and reduce costs, as T-Systems takes over data hosting. The companies need not make huge investments in hardware or personnel to maintain an on-premise infrastructure. The companies can instead focus on their core competency. T-Systems employs the Dynamic Cloud Platform with the Cloudera Big Data solution, providing companies maximum flexibility in the use of Hadoop, as platform requirements can be dynamically scaled up or down depending on use. The T-Systems Zero Outage Program further minimizes failure risk with the help of backup servers and replication, so that companies can expect a permanent reduction in the frequency and duration of failure incidents.

More information on Internet security can be found here. This guide tells you how you can deal with your data in a secure way.

Big Data greetings,

Sven Löffler

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