Facebook shelves plans for new data centre in Denmark

After a year of preliminary planning, Facebook has decided against building a data centre in the western Danish city of Esbjerg.

Facebook shelves plans for new data centre in Denmark
A file photo showing the construction site of an Apple data centre in Denmark. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The social media giant confirmed its decision to news agency Ritzau on Wednesday.

“We have decided to abandon our project regarding a data centre in Esbjerg. After 12 months of comprehensive studies regarding the project, including significant investments in land, we have now reached the point where we can make a fully informed decision,” Facebook told Ritzau via email.

“Despite the many clear advantages, including beneficial access to high-speed fibres and sustainable energy, as well as strong support from Esbjerg Municipality, we have nevertheless concluded that the land, overall, is not the right place for our next data centre in Esbjerg,” the mail continued.

Facebook already has one data centre in Denmark, located near Odense.

Reports of plans for a second such centre in the west of the country first emerged in October last year, reported by Avisen Danmark.

An area of around two million square metres was planned for the data centre, according to the reports, with several million Danish kroner invested in the planning stage.

But those plans have now been scrapped, with Facebook citing a “complex process” in its confirmation of the decision.

“Pointing to a specific aspect as the reason for the decision would give a misleading impression of how decisions of this type are made,” Facebook wrote.

Esbjerg lord mayor Jesper Frost Rasmussen said he was disappointed that the plans had been scrapped by Facebook.

“I am naturally very disappointed that they are stopping this process. But I am pleased that they have praised their partnerships with us and the other partners. But that is sadly scant consolation,” Rasmussen said.

The mayor said he hoped the land could now be used for other purposes.

“Transatlantic cables are still going to reach Esbjerg soon. So our strategy will not change because of this,” he said.

Esbjerg Municipality is already speaking to other, smaller data centres who could be interested in operating in the area, Rasmussen added.

“The area is prepared for a hyperscale data centre. The biggest players would have an opportunity here. Companies like Apple, Google and Amazon. But there are also smaller, co-location data centres,” he said.

READ ALSO: Google to invest $700 million in Danish data centre

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Denmark proposes new law to make Facebook pay for news and music

The government is to forward a bill on Friday proposing tech giants such as Facebook and Google pay Danish media for using content on their platforms.

Denmark proposes new law to make Facebook pay for news and music
File photo: Regis Duvignau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The proposal will also mean platforms used to share media, such as YouTube, will be required to make agreements with rights holders in order to display videos or music, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.

A comparable law recently took effect in Australia, resulting in all news pages being temporarily blocked for Facebook users in the southern hemisphere country.

READ ALSO: Could Denmark force Facebook to pay for news content?

“The media plays a central role in our democracy and ensures that public debate takes place on an infrormed basis,”culture minister Joy Mogensen said in the statement.

“If the media are to be able to continue making journalism, they should of course be paid for its use,” she added.

The proposal will provide for rights holders such as musicians or media outlets to be given a new publishing right which will enable them to decide who can use their content.

As such, companies like Facebook and Google will need permission to use the content online.

The Danish proposal builds on an EU directive which gives individual media outlets the right to agree deals with tech giants.

The bill put forward by Mogensen will allow Danish media to make a collective agreement with the tech companies providing for payment when their content is used.

An interest organisation for Danish media companies has backed the proposal.

“We have wanted to be able to enter collective agreements with tech giants because that would strengthen the media companies’ position,” Louise Brincker, CEO of Danske Medier, told newspaper Berlingske. Brincker noted she had not yet read the full proposal.

Media will not be obliged to make agreements with the tech companies, however. Complaints to the Danish copyright board, Ophavsretslicensnævnet, will be possible under the new law, should it be passed by parliament.

The bill will become law on June 7th should it receive the backing of a parliamentary majority.

Both Facebook and Google decline to comment to Berlingske on the matter, stating they had yet to see the bill in full.