Every internet cloud has a silver lining. If you’re Swiss, at any rate.
While the Prism scandal has shone an unnerving light on how many of our online ramblings are being spied upon by the United States spooks, in Zurich it’s turned into a major business opportunity.
Switzerland, unbeknown to most outside the world of IT, is fast building up a niche industry of secure data storage. While the US National Security Agency seems able to use EU treaty rules as an excuse to snoop on us at will, it has no such writ in Switzerland.
Mateo Meier’s Artmotion business has 6000 square metres in Zurich housing servers used to host cloud data by companies around the world. Far from the prying eyes of the National Security Agency.
He and his fellow data tycoons have seen the number of enquiries from potential customers rocket in the past week. And little wonder.
You see, if you put your photos or documents onto Apple’s iCloud, you really don’t know which jurisdiction the server is in that’s hosting that information.
Safer surely, according to Mr Meier’s pitch, to stick it in Switzerland, “where you know nobody’s going to get at it unless they obtain a search warrant through the proper channels”.
As the EU and US tighten the noose on Swiss private banks’ status as tax hiders, data storage could offer an alternative lifeline to its secrecy-based economy.
That won’t make Switzerland popular with Washington and London, but since when did it care about that?