Is data sovereignty at the top of your priority list when managing your clients’ websites?
For Australian developers and digital agencies that manage client websites within Australia, data sovereignty is an essential point to consider when choosing the right WordPress hosting provider. It is not enough to work with an Australian provider; you need the reassurance that their data centres reside on Australian soil, protected by Australian laws.
What is data sovereignty?
Data sovereignty refers to the governance and accessibility of how data is collected, processed, and stored within a specific jurisdiction. Under data sovereignty, you cannot transfer data or provide access to any other jurisdiction. Data sovereignty is a country-specific concern and data privacy laws around it vary from country to country.
However, there is a rule of thumb across all borders regarding data sovereignty. Data sovereignty stipulates that data collected and processed within a country’s borders must remain within those borders, including backups created by a service provider and support staff locations.
Two main agendas led to the rise of data sovereignty:
- It prevents infringement on personal data by foreign and unauthorised entities. The right to privacy features prominently in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- It prevents data within a country’s jurisdiction from being subpoenaed by foreign governments.
Here in Australia, we have the Australian Privacy Principles (APP) from the Privacy Act of 1988 to uphold data sovereignty. The APP features thirteen principles that govern integrity in collecting, using, and disclosing personal information.
Organisations located within Australia but with foreign operations must disclose each time they share data with foreign entities. They must also ensure that foreign contacts and owners do not breach the APPs. Data sovereignty has more to do with legal matters than technical elements in the digital data industry. It is simply a matter of compliance.
Why Australian businesses may prioritise data sovereignty
Failing to comply with data sovereignty can lead to compromised staff and customer data, and even costly compliance breaches. You might also be risking the integrity of trade secrets, strategic plans, and financial reports. In Australia, the consequences also include a hefty fine for violating the APPs.
Many savvy Australian-based businesses are now proactive about compliance with data sovereignty policies.
An easy step Australian businesses can take to ensure compliance with data sovereignty laws is staff training. Businesses based on Australian soil are designing seminars and workshops to help staff adhere to data compliance laws.
Data governance systems is another way Australian businesses can ensure compliance with data sovereignty laws. Internal data governance processes that align with data sovereignty laws make compliance easier. They feature data handling steps that protect sensitive personal data.
Australian businesses are also leveraging data security systems designed to ensure compliance with APPs. The main advantage of such security systems is that they leave little room for human error. Security systems built for data sovereignty even utilise encryption to protect data.
As an Australian-based business, you should discuss data sovereignty compliance options with your service provider.
Data sovereignty vs data residency
Data sovereignty is just one element of data privacy protection. The other element worth exploring is data residency. Data residency refers to when businesses choose to host their data in a specific physical location or jurisdiction.
Businesses may prefer to store their data in specific geographical locations and jurisdictions due to favourable privacy policies. They may also do so because of good business environments and tax systems.
Data sovereignty, on the other hand, is not a matter of choice. Businesses are obligated to comply with privacy laws and governance in their jurisdiction.
Data sovereignty is a welcome move for consumers in countries and states that have adopted data sovereignty laws. However, some businesses do not share this sentiment because compliance requires extra effort and even resources.
Here in Australia, businesses grapple with data sovereignty compliance when looking for WordPress hosting because it can be difficult to establish data storage locations.
A business located in Australia will have to choose a hosting provider that is also based locally. Second, the business also has to ensure that the service provider adheres to the APPs.
How data sovereignty impacts Australian businesses
With data residency, a service provider can choose Australia as one of its data storage facilities. This, however, does not guarantee that the data would not be routed to foreign facilities or accessed by foreigners.
Many global web hosting companies utilise the “follow the sun” model of operation. In this model, data is stored in one jurisdiction while customer support services operate in another. Foreign jurisdictions, therefore, have access to customers’ data.
Countries may have data sovereignty policies that allow them access to all data in their jurisdiction regardless of origin. Such countries blatantly disregard the data sovereignty policies of data residency jurisdictions.
Many Australians are exhausted from insecurities arising from the potential exploitation of personal data by big tech companies. The 1.67 billion-dollar cyber strategy launched by the government was a welcome move that benefits customers and home-grown Australian tech companies.
Local businesses often benefit from partnering with local web hosting providers. That is because local providers are adept with APP compliance. This means reduced risk of fines or bad PR for the business seeking hosting. Dealing with a service provider familiar with data sovereignty compliance rules also beats holding a foreign service provider to account.
Sovereign, Managed WordPress Hosting with Conetix
We have experience in web hosting since 1999, including hosting for government clients. Our Australian Data Centre is Federal Government approved, with 24/7 monitoring and N+1 redundancy. You can be sure that your client’s sensitive information is kept and protected on Australian soil.
Visit our Managed WordPress page to learn more about our hosting services.