World wide web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee has criticized the Brazilian government's plans to demand that organizations store data locally at a United Nations gathering in Geneva yesterday (5).
Berners-Lee was quoted by newspaper O Estado de São Paulo as saying that the requirements for local data storage, which are part of Brazil's upcoming set of regulations to govern internet use, are an "emotional reaction" to the NSA spying episode and will not have any practical impact in reducing espionage risk.
The statements were made at the launch of the Web We Want campaign, which aims to create a national bill of rights for the internet in every country to protect online freedom. The initiative is led by a coalition of influencers around the world including Joaquim Arruda Falcão, the dean at Fundação Getulio Vargas, one of the most prestigious business schools in Brazil.
The British scientist added that the Brazilian government's plans to demand that data lives only inside the country are not applicable for two reasons. One is related to the difficulty of managing social networks, as well as the fact that the web is based on the principle of not having government controls - meaning that nationalizing servers would not be a good idea.
Berners-Lee pointed out that while the Marco Civil da Internet is generally positive, the requirement to store data locally should be removed.
But Brazilian ministers have affirmed in the last few weeks that the government will not back down on its decision to introduce rules that supposedly increase control for the better and reduce the likelihood of NSA-like spying occurrences.
Meanwhile, corporates are moving to adjust to the possible new realities. Microsoft, for example, has announced this week that it will enable cloud customers in Brazil to store their data locally from next year. Other companies such as Facebook and Google have voiced their disapproval of the proposals.
As I said before in this blog, even the enforcement of stricter rules regarding data protection do not mean that our information is safe. While legislation can help create a safer environment on the web, the law is never going to be ahead of the technology.
We can only hope that Brazil's politicians and their advisors can realize that - before voting an ill-conceived set of regulations that is utterly irrelevant in this day and age.