Finnish IaaS company UpCloud has announced plans to open a US data center in spring 2014, and to offer hosting with protection from NSA snooping. UpCloud will use a combination of techniques to hide the identities of its clients and prevent them from being associated with their own specific data.
In the wake of “the Snowden revelations” and the concerns about data privacy which they caused, the company sees a way to offer greater data privacy for data hosted in the US than any American company can.
Under the Patriot Act, US companies are required to provide data to law enforcement regardless of where that data is stored. Non-US companies are not subject to this law, so while secret FISA courts could grant an agency access to data hosted by UpCloud in the US, the personal information of clients, including which data is theirs, will be hosted in Finland and subject to different legal protections.
Finnish law requires more robust evidence of wrongdoing than FISA to compel a host to hand over data, according to ArcticStartup, and EU privacy and security laws may soon add another layer of privacy protection against US agencies.
UpCloud is not the only European hosting company to attempt a move into the US market with privacy protections, but general manager Antti Vilpponen claims UpCloud’s approach is the best yet.
“Some of our European competitors have solved the situation by building separate services into each data centre,” Vilpponen told GigaOm. “This basically protects customers from cross-border inquiries, but the customer experience in using these services is poor. They have different accounts to different data centres without the possibility to migrate servers easily. With UpCloud, you are able to manage all your servers with a single account — improving usability (in addition to the privacy of your personal data) immensely.”
Along with the US data center, UpCloud also launched a partnership program to extend the reach of their services. UpCloud has already been growing quickly, and boasts that its’ revenues more than tripled in 2013.
It is estimated that as much as $35 billion in cloud spending could be driven from US companies by 2016, and UpCloud is positioning itself to receive some of that shifted revenue.
Other European cloud providers such as Swisscom have attempted to use national privacy laws to attract business. However UpCloud’s attempt to use contract structure, client data and content separation, and national law to host data in the US without exposing clients seems to be the first of its kind.