Data localization

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Data localization or data residency law requires data about a nations' citizens or residents be collected, processed, and/or stored inside the country, often before being transferred internationally, and usually transferred only after meeting local privacy or data protection laws, such as giving the user notice of how the information will be used and obtaining their consent.[1]

Data localization builds upon the concept of data sovereignty that regulates certain data types by the laws applicable to the data subject or processor. While data sovereignty may require that records about a nation's citizens or residents follow its personal or financial data processing laws, data localization goes a step further in requiring that initial collection, processing, and storage occur first within the national boundaries. In some cases, data about a nation's citizens or residents must also be deleted from foreign systems before being removed from systems in the data subject's nation.[1]

Motivations and concerns[edit]

The push for data localization greatly increased after revelations by Edward Snowden regarding United States counter-terrorism surveillance programs in 2013.[2][3] Since then, various governments in Europe and around the world have expressed the desire to be able to control the flow of residents' data through technology. Some governments are accused of and some openly admit to using data localization laws as a way to surveil their own populaces or to boost local economic activity.[2][4][5]

Technology companies and multinational organizations often oppose data localization laws because they impact efficiencies gained by regional aggregation of data centers and unification of services across national boundaries.[2][6] Some vendors, such as Microsoft, have used data storage locale controls as a differentiating feature in their cloud services.[7]

International treaties and laws[edit]

While the Trans-Pacific Partnership included language that would have prohibited data localization restrictions among participants,[8] the treaty was abandoned and never took effect.

After Germany and France either passed or nearly passed data localization laws, the European Union was considering restrictions on data localization laws in 2017.[9][10] Data localization laws are often seen as protectionist and would thus violate European Union competition law.

Data localization laws and scope[edit]

National laws[edit]

National security[edit]

Most nations restrict foreign transfer of information that they consider related to national security, such as military technology.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Data Localization Laws: an Emerging Global Trend". Jurist. January 6, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Data Nationalism". Emory Law. 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "A Primer on Russia's New Data Localization Law". Proskauer. August 27, 2015.
  4. ^ "Risky Business: Data Localization". Forbes. February 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "Silicon Valley tech execs: Surveillance threatens digital economy". Palo Alto Online. October 9, 2014.
  6. ^ "Google Pushes Back Against Data Localization". The New York Times. January 24, 2014.
  7. ^ "Will Data Localization Kill the Internet?". eCommerce Times. February 10, 2014.
  8. ^ "Trans-Pacific Partnership will ban data localization laws". Fed Scoop. October 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Ansip promises EU rules on data flows by autumn". Euractiv. October 5, 2017.
  10. ^ "European Commission eyes an end to data localization in EU". IAPP. January 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Data Residency Requirements Creeping into German Law". Bloomberg Lawdate=April 11, 2016.
  12. ^ "German data storage laws 'threaten free trade'". DW. December 1, 2017.
  13. ^ "Russia – New data localisation law: Current state of play". December 8, 2014.