Local data storage won’t offer a practical impediment to spying either. The NSA has shown itself quite capable of infiltrating foreign communications companies, and local spy agencies would undoubtedly find it very convenient to have all their citizens’ data in one place. (The French government, it should be noted, is no slouch when it comes to surveilling its citizens’ digital habits.)
All of which suggests that the real reason governments want to require local data storage is to promote local businesses. Or, more perniciously, to control information a little more tightly within their borders. Both are provincial bureaucratic urges that should be resisted. And both should be considered more collateral damage of the NSA’s poor cost-benefit calculations.
This very bad idea does, however, have the virtue of illustrating a deeper problem. Many technology companies have based their businesses on collecting precisely the kind of user information that the spies are after.
The architecture of the Internet makes sharing that information effortless, but protecting it effectively impossible. That dichotomy won’t go away. In fact, it’s going to define your life, more and more, every day.