As European governments increasingly push back against the growing power of
American internet giants on antitrust, privacy and tax, the competition in
question increasingly looks like a clash of economies rather than rival
companies. The EU and the US are on the brink of a new kind of trade war,
where flows of data are just as important as flows of capital.
Information has become power. As more and more of us pour it into fewer and fewer centralized locations, a real battle over whose jurisdiction it's stored in is emerging. In the court case surrounding Europe's controversial right to be forgotten, Google refused to disclose where, geographically, it stores user data, for competition reasons.
There are all kinds of reasons why you should care about where your data is stored. If you're a business or institution, there may be legislative and auditing requirements relating to your servers. Many educational institutions in Europe, for example, can't store data in the US without jumping through numerous hoops - and requiring service providers to jump through more.
This is another reason why user choice is important. The cloud has allowed us to use the Internet to power new kinds of applications. For many users, it's tempting to think of a service's server farm as a given: if you sign up with a service, of course you have to use their infrastructure wherever it might be, right? And therefore, of course you'll be subject to their local laws and practices?
It's important to us that Known allows you to choose where you host it. You can use our servers, which are in the US, or we can create a fully-managed hosted infrastructure in Europe or Asia. You can also run it on your own servers, wherever they might be.
We're not alone. A growing number of web services understand that there are real organizational considerations relating to where you store your data. It's all part of user choice and addressing real-world user needs.