Asian countries build data fortresses to protect new national assets

Asian countries build data fortresses to protect new national assets

Limits on cross-border flows hurt business and risk leaving countries poorer

TOKYO — As companies place greater and greater value on big data as an essential part of their operations, nations are beginning to look at the information — which runs from home addresses to consumer behavior — as a new national resource.

With this rise, countries are starting to build their own bastions through legislation to hoard the asset. But tech companies argue these types of data fortresses will stifle innovation.

Asian countries have been some of the most active in this movement. Of the eight countries requiring to localize the storage of data collected with their borders, five are in the region.

The latest battleground is in India.

“We are concerned that some provisions in the … bill would hamper the country’s economic growth, constrain the ability of companies operating in the market to innovate,” a group of about 30 companies, including such big names as Microsoft and Siemens, said in a September letter addressing a set of data regulations being considered by parliament.