Of Sovereign Data and Intelligence

::: nBlog :::

For the past 18 years, BaseN has been managing petabytes of confidential customer data, ranging from deep Internet traffic analysis and gigawatt-hours of energy in Smart Grid initiatives, to real time positioning and safety data of hundreds of thousands of construction site workers across the globe.

One of our key commitments to our customers has always been the uncompromised data security and confidentiality. We’re often the in the heart of our customer’s business, and hence must maintain the highest levels of security and trust at all times. Geopolitically, as a Finnish company we also command trust in most parts of the world.

The success of a nation state is a function of its industry and innovation capabilities. In today’s vastly interconnected world, these assets are under constant digital assault like never before. Therefore, trust and sovereign digital sustainability are more important than ever.

After the devastating war in 1945, Europe was divided into two spheres of influence by USA and Soviet Union. The winners made sure the critical technology clusters (such as the German rocket industry which led to the Apollo space program and intercontinental missiles) were acquired and made use of. Most liberated countries, such as Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium and naturally Germany, signed a so-called Status of Forces (SoF) agreements, which granted exclusive privileges for the conquerors what comes to military intelligence operations and data gathering. Technically, all industry data flows to these new masters and is selectively utilized. These SoFs are sound and valid today, which means that currently the US has a firm grip of all intelligence and innovation data emerging in these countries. After Soviet Union, Russia didn’t inherit all the rights of the communist predecessor, and many ex-Soviet states quickly became NATO members and so the US sphere expanded.

Now coming back to Finland – we suffered heavily and lost about 10% of our country, but there were no conquering or liberating troops on our streets. True, we had to tread carefully when the Soviet Union existed for 80 years, but we don’t have SoF agreements with anyone. Therefore, a Finnish company like BaseN is fairly unique what comes to offering a global digital platform as a backend for global industries.

During a recent parliamentary hearing I was asked whether granting the state (or foreign power) sweeping powers in intelligence gathering would have any impact on the ordinary citizen. My answer is clear: If a nation state destroys citizens’ right for privacy and as a logical consequence, to innovation – the nation state will rapidly decay and cease to exist. People don’t see any point in innovating as someone else is already making use of even early ideas by eavesdropping. One doesn’t have to look further than the former Warsaw Pact countries under the communist rule; the last prevailing innovation challenge was about how to trick the system.

I must emphasize that good relations with other centers of political (and innovation) power are of utmost importance. But in today’s volatile world the conclusion is that a working nation state is the only safeguard for the private and corporate citizen, both physically and digitally.


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