Starlink seen as no threat to local data sovereignty


Routed Managing Director, Andrew Cruise

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ALTHOUGH the presence of the world’s largest satellite constellation, Starlink does not threaten local data sovereignty and security across Africa, however the new development raises concerns over the security and integrity of data when in transit.

This is according to a senior industry expert, Andrew Cruise

In an exclusive interview with CAJ News Africa, the Routed Managing Director, advocated for internet service providers (ISPs) and wireless internet service providers (WISPs) to be regulated by local communications bodies such as the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), to ensure secure flow and safe processing of data.

Cruise was responding to questions from CAJ News Africa regarding the complexity of data sovereignty in a multi-polar world

“As a connectivity provider, Starlink enables the flow, or movement, of data: sovereignty regulations should cover not only this scenario but all ISPs,” Cruise said.

“So I don’t think this threatens sovereignty but it does raise concerns over the security and integrity of data when in transit. As a start, data should be encrypted both at rest and in transit. Further, any ISP including WISPs or Satellite providers should be regulated by local communications bodies.”

SpaceX, the parent company for Starlink provides off-grid high-bandwidth internet access to consumers in 45 countries using low Earth orbit to deliver broadband internet capable of supporting streaming, online gaming, video calls while at the same time leveraging advanced satellites and user hardware coupled with spacecraft and on-orbit operations that deliver high-speed, low-latency internet to users all over the world.

Cruise added, “I guess it’s probably prudent to attempt to define what Data Sovereignty means. Attempt to, because there are many different definitions. Data sovereignty is the ability to maintain legal control and authority of the data within a defined nation’s jurisdictional boundaries. Why is this important? The privacy and security of data within a nation’s boundaries and jurisdiction is paramount to national interest and security.”

He said any nation’s success is built upon the companies and people that resided and kept their data safe pointing out it is critical to the nation’s growth and development.

Cruise commented on developing countries, mainly Africa, that wish to have their own data sovereignty but without investing much into data centres.

“But yes, this is based often on residency/locality of data too – and this does require infrastructure in the country,” he said.

“In my view, this should not be a discussion about whether nations require sovereignty regulations and policies, and how difficult this would be to achieve and support, because they already have them!”

Cruise noted Sub-Saharan African countries will not collocate or host in South Africa due to their sovereignty regulations around their data.

“And yes, I believe that this is driving new colocation infrastructure (data centres) to be built in-country. I think this is unavoidable,” he said.

Routed delivers cloud and infrastructure solutions to enterprise customers, wholesale partners, resellers and affiliates nationwide.

– CAJ News

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