Cross-border data flows underpin every aspect of today’s business—cloud services, customer relationship management, human resource management, remote work, workplace collaboration, and supply chain management. They also underlie distance learning, telemedicine, the fight against cybercrime and child abuse online, fraud monitoring and prevention, investigation of counterfeit products, and a broad range of other activities. The processing and transfer of personal data are integral to many of these exchanges, making trust a vital element for resilient and sustainable economic growth and recovery.
However, trust in international data flows is being eroded over concerns that government demands to access data may conflict with universal human rights and freedoms, including privacy rights, or cause concerns and conflicts with domestic laws when such access transcends borders. These increased concerns and reduced trust have led to uncertainty that may discourage individuals’, businesses,’ and even governments’ participation in a global economy, and can negatively impact inclusive and resilient economic growth. They can also serve as the rationale for an increasing number of compelled data localisation measures globally. Governments have legitimate interests in preventing, investigating and prosecuting serious crime, as well as in addressing national security threats.
Addressing the trust deficit require robust and comprehensive national privacy regulations, with firm commitments to protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals, including the fundamental right to privacy, when personal data is subject to government access. The lack of clarity, transparency, and consistency between national approaches to government access to data has led to a steady growth in the number and restrictiveness of measures to constrain cross-border data flows.
Cooperation between governments and stakeholders including business and multilateral organisations are needed to advocate for interoperable policy frameworks that would facilitate cross-border data flows, enabling data to be exchanged and used in a trusted manner, thereby aiming for high privacy standards. This workshop discussed a set of such draft principles, based on work currently ongoing at the OECD, research conducted by the Centre for International Economic Cooperation of Japan and report recently released by the International Chamber of Commerce.
Director of Partnerships & Research, Datasphere Initiative