India Wants to Tame Data Dervishes

July 4, 2010

Okay, a little 4th of July reality. Some high profile outfits get to demonstrate their plasticity. Which outfit will bend, break, or resist pressure best? Point your browser to “Reports: BlackBerry, Skype, Google Face India Data Demand.” If accurate, India wants to know who does what. Here’s the passage I noted:

Skype and the BlackBerry service could face a ban in India if they do not comply within 15 days, according to reports in The Economic Times, and The Hindu Business Line. A similar notice is also being sent to Google asking it to provide access to content on Gmail in a readable format.

My position is that companies are not nation states. If an organization wants to do business within national borders, those organizations have to follow the rules for that country.

I hear chatter about privacy and security. Interesting stuff, but if an organization breaks the rules within a nation state, I think one should keep in mind that nation states have police, intelligence agencies, and bureaucrats ready, willing and able to enforce the nation’s laws.

Laws are not consistent, clear, or even rational. Companies who operate above the law could be creating untenable situations for employees and contractors who happen to live, work, or visit within the boundaries of a nation state fed up with companies acting like superior entities. A year in prison might be just what’s needed to make the relative balance of power more understandable. What about having offices shuttered? What about not getting a broken sewer repaired? Odd things happen when countries get annoyed at companies and their executives.

Stephen E Arnold, July 4, 2010

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