IGF 2020 WS #194 Governing Cross Border Data Flow & Sustainable Development

Time
Tuesday, 10th November, 2020 (15:50 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th November, 2020 (16:50 UTC)
Room
Room 1
About this Session
The proposed session will shed light on the adverse impact of restricting cross border data flows on factors affecting sustainable development goals of inclusive growth, full employment and innovation such as denting inclusive participation in economy of Medium Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) and startups, from developing countries working in the Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) sector along with effect on consumers trust and usage of select digital technology-driven services.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Bipul Chatterjee, Conusmer Unity and Trust Society
Organizer 2: Sidharth Narayan, Consumer Unity & Trust Society

Speaker 1: Raymond Tavares, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Jay Gullish, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Bipul Chatterjee, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Peter Mwecha, Private Sector, African Group

Additional Speakers

We are bringing in an additional speaker from the intergovernmental organisation, which would add more value and gender and regional diversity in our panel instead of Mr. Peter Mwecha. The speaker’s experience and expertise in the areas of international trade and technological developments would bring in a developing country perspective on the issue of cross border data flows and its impact on trade-led growth in the African region. Additionally, her advanced experience with an intergovernmental organisation would help shed light on the role of such organisations in building regional partnerships leading to more dialogue and discussion between countries. Moreover, we have taken into account the valued feedback given by the MAG committee to inculcate more diversity into the panel by adding a new speaker. Our final speaker list is-

  1. Mr. Raymond Tavares, UNIDO
  2. Mr. Jay Gullish, USIBC
  3. Dr. Joy M.A Katgekwa, UNDP
  4. Mr. Bipul Chatterjee, CUTS International (Moderator and Presenter)
Moderator

Bipul Chatterjee, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Bipul Chatterjee, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Rapporteur

Sidharth Narayan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Format

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What is the impact of restricting cross-border data flow, on different stakeholders (startups, MSMEs, government, consumers, multinational service providers), which inhibit competition, innovation, sustainable and inclusive economic growth? 2. To what extent, if any, could the development of international norms and principles facilitate common approaches and interoperability of data protection frameworks, and also facilitate international trade and cooperation? 3. How can fundamental rights be upheld, while advancing the need for cross-border data flows? 4. How can valid regulatory objectives of data localisation (such as LEAs access to data, economic development, national security etc.), be balanced with the imperative of cross border data flows, given its benefits?

The session is envisaged to emphasise on the need for developing harmonised global data governance frameworks which enable cross-border data flows while balancing it with other policy objectives (privacy, data protection, freedom of speech and expression, economic development etc.), leading to inclusive and sustainable development, on the lines of SDG 17.3 and 17.14 pertaining to enhancing global macroeconomic stability, including through policy coordination and policy coherence for sustainable development. The following adverse consequences of restricting cross-border data flows would be discussed, based on evidence-based research conducted by Consumer Unity & Trust Society: 1. Digital Exports – The trade of digital services exports across the border is significantly based on the free flow of data and favourable policies in destination countries facilitating trade. Global data flows hold potential for firms to enter new markets, generate business insights, facilitate efficient management of global value chains and improve business practices. Strict restrictions placed on cross-border flow of data would hinder how digital services are traded with such countries. Similarly, digital services exports of many countries rely heavily on imports of data-intense inputs from abroad. Thus, in the context of global value chains, restricting the data flows would also impact the source of digital service inputs. Therefore, such measures would harm efforts towards achieving SDG 17.11, i.e. significantly increasing the exports of developing countries. 2. GDP, FDI and Innovation – Any restriction on cross-border data flows and will have an adverse impact on GDP, of which the IT industry holds substantial economic value, particularly in countries like India. The services sector attracts substantial FDI equity inflows, where digital services is a major component. Additionally, IT industry fosters growth through indicators such as innovation, FDI, exports for the wider digital economy. It is observed that digital services export positively correlates with GDP, FDI Inflow, and indicators of innovation such as start-up ecosystems and patents filed. This directionally signifies that any impact on digital services export will affect the GDP, thereby slowing the achievement of SDG 9 with respect to promoting innovation. 3. Employment – A general assumption pervades the discourse that data localisation will lead to the growth of data centres industry, and thus creating employment opportunities. However, data centres are largely automated system, where the number of technical staff associated including maintenance and security staff is less. Initially, temporary employment would be generated during the construction of data centres and associated supplies of hardware. On the contrary, curbing cross-border data flows would hold adverse impact on digital exports, resultingly lowering employment opportunities in the IT/ITES sector, bearing consequential impact on SDG 8. 4. Consumers – Experts believe that restricting cross-border flow of data would adversely affect various consumer welfare parameters such as innovation, privacy and data protection, freedom of speech of expression, quality of service etc. This is likely to have a ripple denting effect on consumers, uptake, usage and trust of select data-driven services. Discussions during the session would also touch upon exploring international best practices for governing cross-border data flows, as speakers would deliberate on the various pros and cons of different agreements and laws, such as Chart of signatures and ratifications of Treaty 185: Convention on Cybercrime, The US Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, 2018, Digital Economy Partnership Agreement between New Zealand, Singapore and Chile, Japan Data Free Flow with Trust initiative by Japan etc. This would shed light on the principles through which adequacy, mutual recognition and equivalence can be ensured within global data governance frameworks.

SDGs

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Description:

Cross-border data flows has brought forth immense benefits such as innovation, competition, cross-border trade, and economic growth. However, it has been observed that there has been a considerable rise in the protectionist measures of restricting cross-border data flows, by countries pursuing valid regulatory objectives of national security, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) access to data, economic development etc. The proposed session will shed light on the adverse impact of restricting cross border data flows on factors affecting sustainable and inclusive growth, such as denting inclusive participation in economy (i.e. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), exports and employment), of Medium Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) and startups, from developing countries, working in the Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) sector. Consumers trust and usage of select digital technology driven services (e-commerce, social media and communication services) is also expected to be adversely impacted, with curbs on associated fundamental human rights towards privacy and freedom of speech and expression. Evidently, these concerns specifically link to the objective of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No.8 for promoting sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, No. 9 on fostering innovation, No. 17 pertaining to aspects of technology and trade. Findings from various evidence-based research (based on in-depth interactions with more than 50 subject experts and service providers, survey of over 1200 consumers, and econometric data analysis) conducted by Consumer Unity & Trust Society on the above would be discussed/presented, which would be followed by an expert panel discussion on the way forward for framing harmonised global data governance frameworks, for enabling cross-border flows, since it is one of the key factors for achieving the SDGs, as mentioned above. Speakers will comprise of representatives from multinational industry bodies, intergovernmental organisation, established civil society organisation and private sector trade body, from different jurisdictions, to have a substantive and holistic discussion from a multi-stakeholder perspective on the issues mentioned above. A question and answer session will follow the panel discussion to make the session interactive, and get diverse viewpoints from participants. The objective of the session would be to discuss a way forward for reaping the opportunities presented by cross-border data flows in terms of increased participation of local industry in the global value chain, knowledge sharing. This can open avenues for attracting investment in different sectors leading to increased employment, contribution to the GDP, value creation through innovation, and upholding fundamental rights, during times of risking a splinternet. The envisaged outcome of the session would be to develop a nuanced understanding towards fostering international digital trade agreements, participation of developing economies within digital services trade, balancing the objective of cross border data flows with domestic policy concerns of LEAs access to data, economic development etc., identifying mutual standards and norms which can promote adequacy and equivalence in regulatory objectives between countries to formulate interoperable data governance frameworks.

Additional Session Organiser : Shubhangi Heda , [email protected]

Expected Outcomes

The proposed session envisages creation of a substantive discourse on enabling equitable cross-border data flow. Participation is expected from international organisations, government representatives, academia, industry bodies, consumer groups and civil society organisations from different countries, thereby being a good platform to showcase our evidence-based studies, which may be used by them for further advocacy efforts in their respective jurisdictions. Informed multi-stakeholder discussions would spur the session organisers and participants to engage in further advocacy efforts through follow up events and policy dialogues, along with promoting follow-on research publications on the need convergence of cross border data flow frameworks. Additional we will also be preparing an event outcome report which will be disseminated within our circles to get more views on the topic.

In recent years, the discussion around cross border data flows has attracted diverse opinions and actions. At the same time, the issue is constantly evolving through recent developments along the lines of impact of COVID-19 on cross border data flows for developing countries, Schrems II judgement, which has invalidated EU – US privacy shield, developments around China’s Digital Silk Road initiative and recent tension between China and India etc. These developments are set to have a significant impact on international data economy and cross border data flow in the coming times. Therefore, we would try to raise these issues during the session and take up questions from the audience on these and try to engage the panellists in the discussion. We would also try to carefully moderate the discussion and the question and answer session , so that we also create dialogue even after the session on some of these pertinent issues.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Businesses from around the world are leveraging data-driven digital technology enabled services, to participate in global markets and benefit from global value chains with greater collaboration and innovation, voluntary technology transfers, and improved business processes. The free flow of data across borders — and the government policies that enable data flows — underpins such cross border trade, and provides benefit to a myriad of connected stakeholders, like consumers benefit from access to more services, better quality of services, enhanced innovation through fair competition - and economies benefit from exports, employment generation, increased GDP. Despite this, undue restrictions on data flows, are threatening the balkanisation of the internet, which is likely to hamper competition and innovation, dent economic growth, and infringe upon fundamental rights of consumers. However, the valid regulatory objectives (LEAs access to data, national security, economic development etc.) of governments imposing restrictions must also be accounted for. Thus, there is a need for undertaking Cost-Benefit Analysis, through tools such as Regulatory Impact Assessments, Competition Impact Assessments and Consumer Impact Assessments, in order to ensure that the costs imposed by such protectionist measures do not outweigh its envisaged benefits. Evidence backed regulation making would enable harmonisation of global data governance frameworks, taking into account the interests of all stakeholders.

Relevance to Theme: As mentioned in the previous sections, the proposed session aims to foster a dialogue on the need for harmonising global data governance on cross-border data flows, for enabling sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Discussions will be aimed at identifying globally acceptable values and norms, based on which domestic data frameworks may be framed/amended, leading to stronger bilateral or multilateral protocols on cross-border data flows. The need for upholding freedom of speech and expression, privacy and data protection for consumers, while also facilitating economic growth in terms of exports, GDP growth and employment generation, would be stressed upon, thereby drawing linkage with SDG 8 & 9. The session will also try to bring in a multi-stakeholder global north-south perspective, while also deliberating upon ways for governments to purse their valid regulatory objectives pertaining to LEAs access to data, national security etc.

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

 

Agenda

The session aims to engage the audience with the finding of an evidence-based study conducted by Consumer Unity & Trust Society and thereafter engaging in a panel discussion on key issues. .

Time

 Particulars

5 minutes

Introductory Remarks – Setting the context and shedding light on the purpose of the  session

10 Minutes

Presentation of findings of evidence-based study conducted by  Consumer Unity & Trust Society on the impact of  Data Localisation (DL) on Digital Trade, Exports and Consumers

30 minutes

Panel Discussion

  • What is the impact of restricting cross-border data flow, on different stakeholders? Is it likely to inhibit competition, innovation, sustainable and inclusive economic growth?
  • To what extent, if any, could the development of international norms and principles facilitate common approaches and interoperability of data protection frameworks, and also facilitate international trade and cooperation? How does the recent ‘Schrems II decision’ impact such interoperability?
  • How can we ensure the fundamental right to privacy and enhance consumer welfare, while advancing the need for cross-border data flows?
  • How can valid regulatory objectives of DL (such as Law Enforcement Agencies’ access to data, economic development, national security etc.), be balanced with the imperative of cross border data flows, given its benefits?

 

 10 minutes

 Question and Answer Session

 5 minutes

 Closing Remark – Summarising the key points from the discussion