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GAIA-X Takes Shape - A New Era of Data Security in Europe?

GAIA-X Takes Shape - A New Era of Data Security in Europe?

Marc Schieder
6/8/20 3:04 PM
As numerous media reported this week, the project around the "European Cloud" GAIA-X, which is backed by representatives of the German Federal Government as well as business and science, is gaining momentum. The goal is still the creation of a European data ecosystem, which should lead to greater transparency and digital sovereignty, especially in view of the superiority of US cloud providers. After all, as American providers, they are subject to the CLOUD Act, which is difficult to reconcile with the EU-GDPR - to the detriment of European users and companies.
 
On Wednesday, the Federal Ministry of Economics announced that the next step will be for 22 German and French companies to set up an international, non-profit organisation under Belgian law. According to the ministry, the feedback since the presentation in autumn 2019 has been very positive, with around 300 companies and other organisations currently involved in the project. On the corporate side, companies of various sizes are on the agenda - from start-ups to large corporations. Other supporters include scientific associations from all over Europe, but also from the USA and Japan. There are more than 20 working groups in which implementation at the technology level is discussed. In this context, there have been reports that Amazon in particular is heavily involved in these groups.
 
In general, the view of US suppliers seems to be changing towards the European approach. In autumn, the American reaction was very negative, but now corporations such as IBM, Microsoft or Google are pushing to become part of GAIA-X. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, recently told dpa that he considers the project to be a "well thought-out proposal". He also hinted that Microsoft wanted to participate, as participation in the GAIA-X network is open to companies from different countries, as long as there are objective standards for data protection and use.
 
The fact that the GAIA-X project is moving into the next phase is definitely encouraging. After all, the European network definitely has the potential to ensure genuine data sovereignty in Europe. We, too, are a member there with DRACOON and support this push. The fact that American manufacturers are now also welcoming the project should be seen in a positive light. The introduction of the EU-GDPR as a historic push for more data protection in Europe and the world may have reminded them of the importance of the issue. A recent survey commissioned by HPE also showed that a clear majority of German managers (85 percent) consider digital sovereignty to be an important or very important goal of their digitization strategy. This once again underlines the relevance of the topic for companies, to which American providers are now also reacting.
 
In today's digitized business world, data protection knows no national borders and violations of data protection do not stop there. For this reason, a European network, which also relies on the help of expertise from non-European countries, must be supported without fail from our point of view as a provider of enterprise file services. We are pleased to be able to contribute our own know-how and experience to the project. The protection of information, transparency and the data sovereignty of the users was already a top priority for us during the product development and is thus firmly anchored in our principles. It is an important sign that the importance of this is now also being recognised at the political level and that companies, but also scientific institutes from all over Europe and the world are joining forces to achieve this. Only if knowledge and technologies are effectively bundled can GAIA-X become a success and possibly herald a new era in data security for Europe.
 
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