In another effort to gain footing in the Asian market Facebook has announced that it will be investing more than 1 billion US Dollars into building a new data center in Singapore. According to an article in This Week In Asia the data center project is projected to start operations in 2022.
Facebook like many other US-based tech giants have had difficulties entering and navigating the Asian and Indian marketplace as both countries have recently passed or proposed regulation on data protection for its citizens. In many cases, countries such as China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam require internet companies to store citizens data on local servers or better known as data localization.
However Jeff Payne the managing director of the Asian Internet Coalition believes that these data localization regulations do not address the core concern a cybersecurity, “ Governments should realize that not only do data localization policies restrict opportunities for businesses to grow domestically and globally, but they, in fact, increase vulnerabilities and don’t address the core concern of cybersecurity.”
Facebook it would appear with its 1 billion dollar investment is hedging its bets that these countries will not be changing their data policies anytime soon and recognizes the opportunities that are present in this market. For example, Facebook has been planning to embed a payment service into its message app called WhatsApp in India for some time, and they have claimed the company has attracted over 200 million users and are ready to launch the payments capability, however, the government is holding up the payment service debut.
The Tango between tech companies looking for global opportunities and countries seeking to protect its citizens has just begun. As data privacy concerns continue to be top of mind all parties involved are going to need to keep a close eye on how these tech giants and countries interact and react with each other.