The New Zealand government is set to make improvements regarding national cybersecurity as it recently signed agreements with major tech firms Amazon and Microsoft.
Currently, both companies are already working with New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau. Interestingly, while they work with local cloud service providers, only these foreign companies hold formal agreements with the government.
The Result of Lobbying
The Amazon agreement with the Department of Internal Affairs covers a three-year period wherein it will assist the department in running cloud computing promotions.
According to a statement released by Amazon to the domestic press, topics raised in the letter they sent to then-Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern back in 2021 regarding cloud computing policies are reflected in its memorandum of understanding with the government.
At the time, the company lobbied the government through a seven-page missive that asked for input regarding the improvement of government policies on cloud computing, assistance for setting up data centers throughout the country, as well as the possibility of bringing in skilled workers. The company also expressed an interest in collaboration so that it could host confidential data beyond the restricted level; however, this was not mentioned in the most recent agreement.
Amazon went on to say that it has always sought to work with the government on a variety of projects geared towards improving the country’s digital future and enumerated its most significant investments in the country.
The company’s cloud services arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) has hired 150 NZ nationals directly and plans to hire an additional 200 in the foreseeable future. In addition, AWS also promised the government that it would train around 100,000 locals in relevant tech skills.
As of press time, Microsoft has yet to comment about its agreement with the government as the final document has yet to be released. Likewise, its most recent land deal for the construction of a hyperscale data center has been considered a sensitive matter as it will entail the use of more than five hectares of non-urban real estate in Auckland.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has sought to build a data center in New Zealand. Back in June 2021, the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office gave the tech giant the go-signal for the construction of its hyperscale data centers. The approval was given because New Zealand stood to benefit from the construction of a NZ$180 million data center that would employ 300 laborers during the construction phase and an additional 50 workers to operate the center on completion.