...and so it has begun. The Balkanization of the internet.
It's by far the greatest threat to the future of the internet and here is why.
Over at BBC, you can read how Germany and France have now begun talking about a European data network that would require companies to keep European data within Europe. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26210053
It's the result of actions by the US Government and the NSA, who I have previously said have done more harm than any terrorist could ever hope to achieve.
So what is the problem with a European internet?
Well, it's the same problem as with the EU cookie law. It is created to prevent the bad guys by making life miserable for the good guys. With the cookie law, only the good guys are harmed because their ability to create a better internet is worsened and their brands are tainted by forcing them to warn first-time visitors that they might be dangerous (when they are not). The bad guys don't care. They can just ignore it.
This balkanization is the same stupid thing.
Imagine that Germany and France manages to turn this into law, that data from EU citizens must stay in Europe, what effect would that have?
Well, take my site 'Baekdal Plus'. I'm hosting my site using Rackspace using a cloud server. Technically, that means that my site's physical location is anywhere in the world since Rackspace has server farms in many different countries. But, realistically, you are most likely to visit the server that is physically located in Chicago, USA.
Or what about images. All my images are cached by Cloudflare to make them load faster. Which means you will see the images from whatever server that is closest to you (see map below).
So think about account management. If you sign-up for Baekdal Plus today, your account info is added to the global server. And you can now access it from wherever you are in the world.
But if EU manages to Balkanize the internet, I would be required to store EU accounts on an EU server and all the other data on another server. And I cannot link the two.
Think about all the problems that this will cause. For one thing, EU citizens would not be able to login outside EU (because that would require that the non-EU servers could look up your account data). But we also have the many potential conflicts.
For instance, you might end up having two accounts with the same username (one in EU, the other outside it)... so what happens when you try to email that person?
Also, think about the impact for me as a business owner. If the servers inside EU is not allowed to share data from outside it, a business owner in the US would not be able to sell his products in Europe without opening a physical office somewhere in EU. Why you ask? Because he wouldn't be allowed to access the data from his office in the US.
And what about analytics? How would you be able to know what to do if you can't share data across borders? Can you imagine having to sign in with two different accounts just to see the data from inside and outside the EU, because the data is stored on two different servers?
This has to be stopped. This Balkanization of the internet is the greatest threat to the internet so far. The irreparable damage this will cause to businesses will make the cookie law seem like child's play in comparison.
As a business, you will be forced back into the old world where you need a physical presence to run your business just to manage your data.
None of this will really be a problem for Google, because they are already so big that they have data all over the world. The problem is for you and me who only have one server and one office. How would we be able to conduct business on a global scale if we cannot store and access the data from a single place?
I'm an EU citizen, operating my business in USD, hosting from Chicago, USA. How would forcing me to divide up my business into EU and non-EU make my life better? How would it make yours better?
Fix the real problem. Make it globally illegal for intelligence agencies to spy on innocent people. Elevate the FISA courts to a UN level, so that the US (or any other government) can't just grant itself the right to spy on foreigners without a UN warrant.
Don't destroy the internet by forcing it to be balkanized. We are global by default and we want to stay that way!