How Data Sovereignty Laws Apply To APIs

Back to main article

APIs have become ubiquitous in enabling digital services and connecting applications. However, as APIs proliferate, there is increased regulatory scrutiny to ensure they are compliant with data privacy and sovereignty laws.

What is data sovereignty?

Data sovereignty is the concept that data is subject to the laws and governance of the nation in which it is collected or stored. Countries are asserting more control over data within their jurisdictions.

Key regulations

Regulations like GDPR in the EU and CCPA in California enshrine data sovereignty principles. They dictate requirements for how personal data is processed, secured, and transferred. Fines for non-compliance can be severe.

Why APIs are affected

While APIs act as intermediaries, they directly handle user data. API traffic can reveal personal info crossing borders. Here are some examples:

  • Payment APIs transmit financial information
  • Location APIs reveal user coordinates
  • Healthcare APIs contain medical records
  • Identity APIs enable authentication

Thus, APIs must follow relevant regulations for securing, localized storing, and lawful transfer of end user data.

Architecting compliant APIs

API providers need to build compliance considerations into the API lifecycle:

  • Enable encryption of API calls and payloads
  • Track data provenance through API gateways
  • Allow restricting API access by geography
  • Document how APIs handle regulated data
  • Support data deletion and revocation flows
  • Clearly specify terms of use and privacy policies

Implications for SaaS providers

SaaS providers have extensive obligations when offering services globally due to their extensive API integrations. SaaS apps transmit a wide breadth of regulated data like financial information, healthcare records, personal identifiers, and more. Their API ecosystems interconnect with countless third-parties ranging from payment processors to marketing tools to data warehouses.

Ensuring compliance across these complex webs of APIs is challenging but essential. SaaS companies must confirm where regulated data flows, how it is secured end-to-end, and that geography-based controls are feasible. Close collaboration with all API partners is crucial to map data transmission responsibilities across services. SaaS providers cannot risk exposure to non-compliance fines due to API deficiencies.


APIs cannot be an afterthought when it comes to data privacy and sovereignty regulations. Providers must ensure APIs respect jurisdiction over data while enabling innovation.

Learn about how PhotonIQ’s cutting-edge API hosting and delivery from the edge can ensure data sovereignty with region-based secure vaults and data tokenization, chat with an Enterprise Solution Architect.

Related Content

The Challenge is SaaS APIs on the Cloud - the Solution is the Edge

Terms of Service
Privacy Policy