Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
July 22, 2021

Who Owns Your EU Data? European Union Data Sovereignty

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European Union and Data Sovereignty

The European Union (EU) has gotten very interested of late in the concept of data sovereignty. They’ve realized that almost all the data in the world (92%) is hosted in the United States. As such, they want more of it under their purview. 

Statements from German Chancellor Angela Merkle and others in the EU sound very good. So good in fact that they read like something stolen from TARTLE’s own website. They talk about security, competition and ‘fostering trust’. Yet, there is plenty of reason to think that those good words are not genuine and the politicians aren’t necessarily thinking of the best interests of their citizens. Are they even looking at things in the proper light?

As an example, does it really matter where the servers are? It might in the sense of the host country’s government potentially having easy access to them. However, the real power comes from the people generating all the data in the first place. The individuals are the ones who really hold the power of all that data since they are the ones generating it. The servers really are just storage. 

What about the big tech companies? Don’t they have the real power in the situation? They are the ones who own the servers and the apps so it makes sense that they have the real power. In a sense, this is true. They can delete and sell data at will in most places, making a ton of money in the process. It’s also a place where the EU lags far behind the rest of the developed world. None of the top twenty tech companies are based in the EU. Perhaps it’s understandable they are feeling slightly inadequate. 

Despite the obvious and real power of the tech companies, the true power still lies with the individual. The individual generates all the data. In fact, he decides whether or not he will generate any data at all. That power, however, is largely untapped. That’s because the laws don’t recognize that power for the most part, making it harder for the individuals to understand it as well. So, does the data sovereignty focus by the EU address that issue at all? Will it help people realize the power they really have? Sadly, it doesn’t look that way.

First, they are wanting to force a lot of that server space to their shores. The rule they are wanting to enforce is that any server with data from EU citizens on it has to be located in Europe. What does that accomplish? They get all the access they want for one because they set the rules. They also get taxes, and lots of them, something the EU certainly plans to take advantage of. Recent statements indicate this very clearly, wondering when “cross-border transactions” fall under certain tax regimes. In plain English, this means “when do we get to take people’s money?”

Sadly, all of this means that the EU is really only interested in data sovereignty as it pertains to them. And even then, only as a means of control, to be able access data and tax others for their own purposes. There isn’t anything there about actually empowering the individual. 

TARTLE though is doing exactly that. We have set up a system that lets people take control of their digital lives in a way that is easy to do and understand. Our TOS are simple, our website easy to use, and our goals clear. We take no money from the individual sellers that join us. We are in 195 countries around the world so we have no national agenda. All we want to do is help people protect their data so they control when it gets shared and to whom. That shouldn’t be asking too much.

What’s your data worth?

Feature Image Credit: Envato Elements

For those who are hard of hearing – the episode transcript can be read below:


Speaker 1 (00:07):

Welcome to TARTLE Cast with your hosts, Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby, where humanities steps into the future and source data defines the path.

Alexander McCaig (00:24):

Good morning, everyone, our fellow listeners from over 195 countries and across the globe, we appreciate your support and we love the fact that not only are you listeners to the podcast but you are also participants in the TARTLE marketplace. So kudos to you for being data champions. Jason-

Jason Rigby (00:45):

Champions. Sorry, I love when you say data champions, it pumps me up. I'm ready.

Alexander McCaig (00:51):

You should be pumped up.

Jason Rigby (00:53):

You know the boxes they have at the Olympics, the gold, silver?

Alexander McCaig (00:55):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason Rigby (00:56):

Yeah, I want to stand on that and just have that data champion medal put around my neck.

Alexander McCaig (01:01):

The thing is, I want a bunch of those boxes all at the same level.

Jason Rigby (01:03):

Yeah. We have to have them, everyone I know.

Alexander McCaig (01:09):

Data sovereignty.

Jason Rigby (01:11):

What are those flags, Alex?

Alexander McCaig (01:12):

Oh, the European Union.

Jason Rigby (01:13):


Alexander McCaig (01:14):


Jason Rigby (01:16):

So 92% of data from the west is hosted in the United States. Check this out, there are no European companies in the top 20 of global tech brands.

Alexander McCaig (01:30):

That's amazing.

Jason Rigby (01:31):

Four nations from the EU want to do something about it. So the leaders of four of Europeans countries are calling for the EU to adopt a joined up strategy for how it shares and controls data.

Alexander McCaig (01:42):

Yeah. They realized that we over the here in the west, have all these servers with all this information and we've done a very fine job of extracting that information off the labor of the people in many countries across the globe and so now the EU's like, "Damn, we're falling behind."

Jason Rigby (02:03):

Yeah. And German Chancellor-

Alexander McCaig (02:06):


Jason Rigby (02:07):

Yep. Danish Prime Minister, Estonian Prime Minister and Finnish Prime Minister say, "Now is the time for Europe to be digitally sovereign." They also said-

Alexander McCaig (02:17):

Oh, they want to be sovereign?

Jason Rigby (02:19):


Alexander McCaig (02:19):

So they want to take back control of all the servers?

Jason Rigby (02:22):

Listen to the words they use, they need to talk to us, "We have to foster the Digital Single Market in all its dimensions where innovation can thrive and data flow freely. We need to effectively safeguard competition and market access in a data-driven world, critical infrastructures and technologies need to become resilient and secure. It's time for the digitization of government in order to build trust and foster digital innovation." Did they steal that from our website?

Alexander McCaig (02:51):

I actually asked them that on the phone, I had a call with the European Union and I said, "It's really funny, after I read what you guys read, which you posted after the fact, literally it looks like you took a right off of our website." I told them this on the phone, I've had this conversation with them. But they just feel that they don't have any grip, no power, no control, they think if the server's sitting in the United States, that's where the power sits.

Jason Rigby (03:18):


Alexander McCaig (03:20):

That's a fundamentally flawed idea because it's not the fact that the servers are in the US that determines the power, right? It's how the people use that data and who thinks that [crosstalk 00:03:31] control of the use of that data, their demand for sovereignty is an idea of that we just want to be in control. Am I wrong? You're at an economic loss so you feel that if you claim data sovereignty and put up rules and regulations that say, "If there're European users and you have data centers in the US on European users, that can't be a thing anymore."

Jason Rigby (03:58):

Yeah and also when they look at control and they automatically say, "Oh, okay, there's too much power and it's in the hands of the large tech companies." So everybody's shifting the blame to Google, Facebook and all these large tech companies-

Alexander McCaig (04:11):

Blame, blame, blame.

Jason Rigby (04:12):

... instead of understanding that you are in control of your digital destiny.

Alexander McCaig (04:17):

Yeah, the individual, we need to make a song about you being in control.

Jason Rigby (04:24):

Yeah, we need all our listeners out there to make, we want to throw some songs on the intros and outros, we'll throw some new ones on there.

Alexander McCaig (04:30):

So we'll buy-

Jason Rigby (04:31):

So we can come out on the episode with your song that you make.

Alexander McCaig (04:36):

Yeah, I would love that.

Jason Rigby (04:37):

Yeah, that'd be awesome, we'll put different ones on there.

Alexander McCaig (04:39):

We're going to have to create a data packet where we buy individual songs, "Oh, you're putting a song out there? Can we buy this from you? This will be the new intro for TARTLE." Our new tee cast artwork, "Can we buy that from you?"

Jason Rigby (04:53):

Yeah, we can through the TARTLE marketplace-

Alexander McCaig (04:55):

Our new intro for Sherpa Vision, "Can we buy that from you?"

Jason Rigby (04:57):

Would love that.

Alexander McCaig (04:58):


Jason Rigby (04:59):

So the quartet of heads of state have weighed in alongside-

Alexander McCaig (05:01):

The quar what?

Jason Rigby (05:02):

The quartet.

Alexander McCaig (05:02):

Oh, so now they're in just some sort of musical ensemble-

Jason Rigby (05:05):

All four of them.

Alexander McCaig (05:06):

Oh, the music-

Jason Rigby (05:07):

I'd like to hear those four prime ministers sing.

Alexander McCaig (05:10):

Oh my gosh.

Jason Rigby (05:11):

The quartet of heads of state have weighed in alongside a growing number of calls for a rule-based system that allows for greater ownership of vital technology assets, because that's what they are, at a local, national and regional level.

Alexander McCaig (05:24):

Oh. So none of them at the level of the individual?

Jason Rigby (05:26):


Alexander McCaig (05:27):

Oh, interesting.

Jason Rigby (05:28):

It's local, national and regional level in the European Union.

Alexander McCaig (05:31):

Lame. You know what I think about that? You know what that sounds like? S-C-A-M, scam.

Jason Rigby (05:36):

Yeah. And they said, "That's an attempt to highlight the challenge here it faces over having control over its digital destiny, the letter has highlighted three key areas." So let's talk about the three key areas.

Alexander McCaig (05:47):

I feel like I'm smashing my head against the wall.

Jason Rigby (05:48):

Identifying Europe's potential strengths and strategic weaknesses in the tech sphere. I know Spotify is in Europe, right? No, they're in Sweden, aren't they? Is Sweden in the European Union?

Alexander McCaig (05:58):

It's not in the European... I don't know. Is it really part of the Union?

Jason Rigby (06:01):

Spotify's headquarters are in Sweden.

Alexander McCaig (06:01):

No, because they use the Krona, they don't use the Euro.

Jason Rigby (06:05):

Yeah. Because I know that's probably top 20 tech companies, I would think.

Alexander McCaig (06:10):

Yeah, Spotify is killing it.

Jason Rigby (06:12):

Yeah, their stock's through the roof, $280 a share.

Alexander McCaig (06:14):

The kingdom of Sweden.

Jason Rigby (06:15):

Yeah. And that's where Spotify is at, right? I think

Alexander McCaig (06:19):

Sweden and then we'll do Spotify. Yeah.

Jason Rigby (06:24):

So, that's number one, Identifying Europe's potential strengths and strategic weaknesses in the tech sphere. Number two is, Widening the use of open markets and supply chains to avoid an over-reliance on proprietary system. TARTLE.

Alexander McCaig (06:39):

I don't want to call TARTLE the great equalizer but because it's our company, we're going to call it the great equalizer.

Jason Rigby (06:45):

No but I mean, they say they want, widening the use of open markets, what is TARTLE?

Alexander McCaig (06:50):

It is what I would define as the most perfect open market.

Jason Rigby (06:54):

And then how could you have an over-reliance of proprietary systems? The data is not-

Alexander McCaig (06:58):

The data's for everyone to analyze.

Jason Rigby (07:03):


Alexander McCaig (07:04):


Jason Rigby (07:05):

If TARTLE wants to get data, we have to go in and purchase it off the system.

Alexander McCaig (07:08):

Yeah, just because people are banking with us-

Jason Rigby (07:11):

I don't get free data.

Alexander McCaig (07:12):

Here's the fundamental difference, I'm so excited about this. Banks, when I deposit my money with them, they play around with it, all day long.

Jason Rigby (07:20):


Alexander McCaig (07:21):

They invest it, do whatever they can and they're also insured. When you bank your data with TARTLE, we don't invest it, we don't touch it, we don't move it around-

Jason Rigby (07:30):

It's encrypted, we don't know anything about it.

Alexander McCaig (07:31):

... it's yours, we can't read it, none of that stuff. That's for you. So when you think about an open market, a place where you actually own something, it's proprietary to you until you choose to share it with somebody else, that seems like a beautiful open market, does it not? And I spoke to the European Union about this and they were deeply intrigued at our design. And I said, "Listen, whether or not you want to work with us or not, we're going to do it without you."

Jason Rigby (07:55):

Yeah. And it just creates a ton of unity, I mean, TARTLE is exactly what they're looking for. Listen to number three, Creating an evaluation framework to ensure technology use remains in line with broad European ideals of delivering social, scientific and economic benefits.

Alexander McCaig (08:11):

Oh, that pretty much sounds like what's going on with TARTLE.

Jason Rigby (08:13):

Yeah, we could ask everyone that's in the European Union-

Alexander McCaig (08:17):

What do you guys want to do?

Jason Rigby (08:17):

... about social issues, scientific issues and economic benefits-

Alexander McCaig (08:20):

Where do you want investment to go?

Jason Rigby (08:20):


Alexander McCaig (08:21):

If you want to economically benefit people in the EU, buy the data from them. Oh, look at that. Think about the financial empowerment you're starting to do with just that alone. Oh, this is great.

Jason Rigby (08:30):

But when we get into these large tech companies, breaking them up is not the answer-

Alexander McCaig (08:35):

This is the-

Jason Rigby (08:35):

... you still haven't solved the philosophy of-

Alexander McCaig (08:39):

You know what this reminds me of? Rockefeller, Standard Oil.

Jason Rigby (08:40):


Alexander McCaig (08:41):

"Break them up, they're too big." That's not the solve. The solve is not to make these things into all these other tiny little pieces that connected together still have that same power.

Jason Rigby (08:50):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (08:51):

No, you need to give the power to the individuals that are creating that data.

Jason Rigby (08:54):

And then why aren't people bitching about telecom the industry, there's only what, three or four main players now? T-Mobile bought out Sprint.

Alexander McCaig (09:01):

S-C-A-M, another scam.

Jason Rigby (09:04):


Alexander McCaig (09:05):

It's surrounded by scams.

Jason Rigby (09:06):

And they're collecting tons of data-

Alexander McCaig (09:08):

We've talked about this-

Jason Rigby (09:09):

... off of a phone-

Alexander McCaig (09:09):

... we've read the T-Mobile Privacy Policy the other day-

Jason Rigby (09:11):

Yes, you guys should go listen to that.

Alexander McCaig (09:13):

... scam alert, big old stamp.

Jason Rigby (09:14):

So this is a key, are you ready? This is government-

Alexander McCaig (09:19):

Give me a big old skeleton key, that's what I want.

Jason Rigby (09:21):

There are also calls for digital cyber policy to help answer questions like, "When a technology company does business globally, where should it be?" You ready? What do you think the word is? Where should it be? It starts with a T.

Alexander McCaig (09:34):

Oh, where should it be?

Jason Rigby (09:34):

Oh, where should it be? It's something that government loves to do to its people, it starts with a T.

Alexander McCaig (09:40):

Oh gosh.

Jason Rigby (09:41):

And we hate it more than anything.

Alexander McCaig (09:43):

I don't, where should...

Jason Rigby (09:43):

In the United States we have a corporation that handles this and they don't-

Alexander McCaig (09:44):

Oh, where should it be taxed?

Jason Rigby (09:52):

Yes, of course. That's the thing they're-

Alexander McCaig (09:55):

Hold on, taxes.

Jason Rigby (09:57):

So that's the number one thing... This whole article is smoke and mirrors that gets to this point.

Alexander McCaig (10:02):

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Jason Rigby (10:03):

The United States is making too much money off of data-

Alexander McCaig (10:05):

This is it, remember I told you, they don't give a shit about you or your data. What they're fundamentally interested in is having power over the data so they can make money from it.

Jason Rigby (10:14):

Well, they even clarify it, listen to this. And at what point does a cross- border financial transaction fall into the jurisdiction of a particular tax authority.

Alexander McCaig (10:22):

Oh my God.

Jason Rigby (10:23):

Do you get all those words? Cross-border, wrong. Financial transaction-

Alexander McCaig (10:27):

We want an open marketplace but we want to be able to tax the whole thing.

Jason Rigby (10:31):

Yeah and fall into the jurisdiction of particular tax authority. So now you're setting up shell companies because Facebook has shell companies, Google, they all have shell companies in Europe because you pay less taxes. Now Europe's trying to say, "Okay, you've got too much data collection in United States so we want those taxes."

Alexander McCaig (10:47):

Do you know how many of them are going to go set up under the Luxembourg model? All of them. Come on. Get out of here.

Jason Rigby (10:53):

So whenever you have 149 zettabytes of data, that's going to be created, copied and consumed around the world, and a zettabyte is, you use 10 bytes of data in a single type of word so you got to figure out how, a zettabyte is way more than billions-

Alexander McCaig (11:11):

Isn't it a thousand terabytes?

Jason Rigby (11:12):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (11:13):

An estimated 9% of all data in the Western world is stored on US owned servers and this becomes the problem, because these regional national governments, when they're looking at data, they're like, "Now data is the new currency so how can we use this too?" It's like marijuana, New York, I think is voting on it today or something-

Jason Rigby (11:33):

Oh, good for them.

Alexander McCaig (11:33):

... or they're trying to.

Jason Rigby (11:34):

Yeah, but the only reason they're even interested is because the taxes on it.

Alexander McCaig (11:39):

Yeah, let's vote if people can smoke a plant. I cannot-

Jason Rigby (11:44):

Yeah, but-

Alexander McCaig (11:45):

I'm going to do a vote on TARTLE. I want to know before the government knows.

Jason Rigby (11:48):

So the EU has a General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.

Alexander McCaig (11:53):


Jason Rigby (11:54):

And this is how digital sovereignty manifests in everyday life. It seeks to unify how personal data is looked after online through rules and regulations and with the threat of punitive sanctions. Under the terms of the GDPR, any organization, no matter where it is based must abide by a set of data management rules if it wants to trade with customers in EU countries. Those rules make it possible for individual citizens to take more control of how their data might be used, it also says potential fines of almost 25 million for data breaches. So, here's my question. What are these set rules and who is making the rules in digital sovereignty? Why is the government-

Alexander McCaig (12:34):

Deciding for people and their data, how it should be managed. The individual should decide how their information should be managed, a government does not need to tell an individual. The asset that you create is for them to define how it's used, where it's stored? It's yours.

Jason Rigby (12:55):

So you want to tax, put rules and regulations on my data? This is what I'm getting from.

Alexander McCaig (13:01):

I feel like I'm going to-

Jason Rigby (13:02):

And now you're squabbling what country it's in.

Alexander McCaig (13:04):

I feel like I need to grow my hair out, rip my clothes off and run through the trees.

Jason Rigby (13:10):

But how is this good for people?

Alexander McCaig (13:12):

It's not good for people, it's good for the government. And just because it's good for government, when's the last time it has been good for people? Huh? Someone give me an example?

Jason Rigby (13:20):


Alexander McCaig (13:20):

Somebody, please? I haven't seen it.

Jason Rigby (13:25):

To close out the show, Alex, and I've said this before and I want people to understand this. How important is it to claim back your data, for you?

Alexander McCaig (13:34):

It's like claiming back your life. If you've given your life away to a job and you're like, "Man, I've lost who I am, I don't even remember who I was or what I wanted to do when I was growing up."

Jason Rigby (13:45):


Alexander McCaig (13:46):

You've got to claim that back. So if you're creating all this data fumbling around on your phone 24 hours of the day, every single day from now on only going forward because that will only increase.

Jason Rigby (13:55):


Alexander McCaig (13:56):

Claim that back. It's your time-

Jason Rigby (13:58):

Every word you type, everything you do.

Alexander McCaig (14:00):

... it's not the government's time.

Jason Rigby (14:01):

Every [terabyte 00:14:02] of data you have, that's yours-

Alexander McCaig (14:04):

It's yours.

Jason Rigby (14:05):

... you created it.

Alexander McCaig (14:05):

You put the labor in, you had the thoughts, the behaviors, that's all you, that's your life, not the government's ownership of your life, not a business's ownership of your life, that's for you to decide.

Jason Rigby (14:16):

They already do it where you exchanging time for work, now they're wanting to do it with data.

Alexander McCaig (14:23):

Now they want to get the other side of, the whole other 50%-

Jason Rigby (14:24):

How many times are they going to tax you?

Alexander McCaig (14:26):

They're going to tax you until they squeeze you dry.

Jason Rigby (14:29):

Yeah. On your work, on things that you purchase, on things that you exchange, on things that you trade-

Alexander McCaig (14:35):

I've got to tell you, dude, it's just not respectful. The whole way that things written, it's just totally disrespectful. It's disrespectful to human beings.

Jason Rigby (14:44):

I mean, when we look at it, it's also a lie with the whole idea of digital sovereignty. It's digital sovereignty to the government.

Alexander McCaig (14:54):

Don't use that fricking word.

Jason Rigby (14:55):

It's not for me.

Alexander McCaig (14:56):

It's for the government sovereignty.

Jason Rigby (14:58):


Alexander McCaig (14:59):

They want to act like the Vatican, they want to be untouched. No. It's not your choice. It's not your data.

Jason Rigby (15:06):

We know better and-

Alexander McCaig (15:06):

Guess what? Let me tell you something. If I'm a person in Europe and I'm using the system, I chose to use that system and it's based in the US, I put my data there.

Jason Rigby (15:15):


Alexander McCaig (15:15):

It's not for the European government to decide that that data needs to be taken back so they can tax it. Simple enough.

Jason Rigby (15:23):

It is so aggravating when we see this over, because we read these articles, we go through this stuff, guys, every single day, seven days a week, we're in this-

Alexander McCaig (15:31):


Jason Rigby (15:32):

Yeah, constantly in this world and we see this. And truthfully TARTLE, we want to be this world data marketplace and if we have billions and billions of signups, we have influence, just as Facebook does, just as Google does, TARTLE would have that same influence.

Alexander McCaig (15:48):

Can you define what we is though?

Jason Rigby (15:50):

The people, we all.

Alexander McCaig (15:51):

Thank you, we the people-

Jason Rigby (15:52):

That's what I'm saying.

Alexander McCaig (15:54):

... have the influence and not just the United States, I'm talking about all these countries, recognized by the United Nations or not, you all have influence.

Jason Rigby (16:01):

And then governments will have to look at TARTLE, which is us as the people, and say, "Oh, okay, this is how you want to run your data?" Now we need to react because that's what governments do, they react.

Alexander McCaig (16:13):

Yeah, they react. And if the government comes to TARTLE and wants to ask a question, I'd be like, "Hold on a minute. Do you have some money so you can buy the data packet from the people and then they can decide how they want to answer that question for you?"

Jason Rigby (16:22):

Yeah, and if they want to sell it to the European Union, go right ahead.

Alexander McCaig (16:25):

"Do you want me to speak for them?"

Jason Rigby (16:25):


Alexander McCaig (16:26):

"Let me tell you something, this team built this tool for them so if you have a question about the way it's run, ask the people how they feel about it, don't would hammer me."

Jason Rigby (16:36):


Alexander McCaig (16:36):

"Billions of people across the globe chose to sign up, you're trying to function here on your one little border and you're hammering me with it. I've got 195 other borders I'm looking at."

Jason Rigby (16:47):

TARTLE is borderless.

Alexander McCaig (16:48):

Totally borderless, it's a really an open market.

Jason Rigby (16:50):

It's a global open market.

Alexander McCaig (16:55):

There's this thing called Memex, you ever heard of it?

Jason Rigby (16:57):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (16:57):

DARPA designed it and they're like, "We need to create a new way to look at information on the internet because really it's completely under utilized, Google Search Indexing sucks."

Jason Rigby (17:05):


Alexander McCaig (17:05):

It really does. We think it's all great when you Google Search but it's so limited in the capacity and the gains that can actually happen from true searches, truly evolved indexing across all different types of data, all right?

Jason Rigby (17:21):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (17:22):

That's using the internet properly, giving control of people's data back to them is using that internet properly, using the internet for open markets is using it properly, using the internet for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies is using it properly, that's all it is. That's using it properly, when you really respect human beings, when you respect the tool to elevate human nature, behavior, all those things, that's the internet used properly. Rules, regulations and taxes, those are limiters, that's your upper limit problem, the world's going to smash through that and these countries will come around and they're going to ask questions, "What do we do? How do we figure it out?" It's not for you to figure out, it's for the people that decide what they want in their future.

Jason Rigby (18:03):

Take back your data.

Alexander McCaig (18:07):

Take it back, at the drop of a hat, take it back.

Speaker 1 (18:11):

Thank you for listening to TARTLE Cast with your hosts, Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby, where humanity steps into the future and source data defines the path. What's your data worth?