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Jimmy Wales: Good Luck Trying To Stop Wikipedia Doing What It Wants

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Wikipedia’s co-founder says ECJ’s dismissal of the safe harbour agreement won’t impact his company, but will be a nightmare for Facebook

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has stated that the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding a data transfer pact between Europe and the US will have no impact on the online encyclopedia.

But, speaking at UK tech exhibition IP Expo, he said ECJ’s verdict that the so-called safe harbour agreement is invalid will create ‘unbelievable complications’ for tech firms, such as Facebook and Google.

Safe Harbour Impact

jimmy wales keynote“For Wikipedia, I doubt there will be any impact from this,” he said. “We don’t have any legal presence in Europe at all so good luck trying to stop us from doing whatever we want in America.

“It will be much harder for companies that do business in Europe. They face much more complicated issues.”

Wales added that the safe harbour ruling has him worried for the future as a consumer, as well as a tech boss.

“Nevermind the impact of Europe versus USA when it comes to technology companies, what concerns me is that we are moving to an era of Balkanised data, where data has to be held in-country in very specific ways across many jurisdictions.

“From a technological point of view, that gets pretty annoying and complicated, to have to partition things.

“When I’m using cloud storage, such as Dropbox, which I love, I don’t care where they keep my data. I care that they look after it.”

Wales’ view

But, whether his data is sitting in London or Berlin, he wants his data fast, he explained.

“I want it when I want it, and I want them to move my data around to optimise my experience.

“If putting it in California means my synching is slower compared to having it in London then i want it in london. If their privacy policy is good and i accept it then that’s fine with me.”

In terms of companies like Facebook, he said the implications are potentially incredibly complicated “because the whole point of Facebook is to share data across many jurisdictions.

“How are they even going to cope with that? Whether they store my posts in london or California they’re still sharing that information with people, so i think we’ll see a lot of interesting analysis over the coming weeks.”

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