Facebook’s announcement that it is investing more than US$1 billion in building a new data centre in Singapore underlines how multinational technology firms are re-examining their operations as they face regulatory headwinds in Asian countries increasingly concerned with protecting their own data and data flows.
The data centre, projected to start operations in 2022, is a testament to Facebook’s long-term commitment to Southeast Asia, home to 360 million users of the website. In choosing Singapore to host its first data centre in Asia, Facebook has confirmed the city state’s status as the region’s data storage hub, a status that owes much to its strong data and intellectual property protection laws.
Another factor that is likely to have influenced Facebook’s decision is Singapore’s cross-border data transfer policy, which allows data to be sent abroad if the recipient country has strong data protection laws comparable to those of Singapore. This might help Facebook navigate future data privacy laws in several Asian jurisdictions, which are currently mulling over their respective versions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that has been introduced by the European Union. [continued]