IGF 2021 WS #188
Converging government data access, privacy & data flows

Organizer 1: Alexandre Roure, Computer & Communication Industry Associations (CCIA)
Organizer 2: Alexander Seger, Council of Europe

Speaker 1: Alexander Seger, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Fernanda Domingos, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Audrey Plonk, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Alexandre Roure, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Alexandre Roure, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Alexander Seger, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Other - 90 Min
Format description: Workshop

Policy Question(s)

International standards: How should international standards address the different requirements and preferences of governments and citizens in different countries?
International rules and state accountability: How should international rules be strengthened to protect national sovereignty and citizens against attack by malicious state and non-state actors? What can be done to better hold nation-states accountable for cyber-attacks?
Additional Policy Questions Information: How to reconcile extraterritorial government access to data and the protection of people's privacy without undermining the free flow of information that underpins the Internet?

Governments across the world have a legitimate need to obtain data, including, subject to conditions and safeguards, for the investigation and prosecution of crime within their jurisdictions or for national security purposes. But data is borderless and is increasingly stored in or moving between foreign, multiple or unknown jurisdictions. This has serious implications on the ability of governments to obtain such data and thus to protect individuals against crime, companies against computer attacks and theft of data, and the rule of law in cyberspace.

Common rules-based and widely accepted solutions for government and law enforcement to obtain data will be decisive for the future of global Internet governance. International discussions are currently underway and agreements are being negotiated in this respect. The session will explore such efforts that are aimed at reconciling the need for effective law enforcement with the need to meet human rights and rule of law, including data protection, requirements.

This session builds upon prior IGF workshops: WS87: Law Enforcement, Cyberspace & Jurisdiction (2016), WS149 Crime and jurisdiction in cyberspace: towards solutions (2017), and WS #288 Solutions for law enforcement to access data across borders (2019).


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: SDG 9: The free flow of data across borders drives our data-driven economies and support domestic technology development and industrial diversification, enhance modern research, and allows industrial players to innovate.

SDG16: Efficient government and law enforcement data access is essential for states to guarantee their citizens’ security. At the same time, privacy limitations and procedural safeguards are essential to ensure effective, accountable and transparent government data access practices, and protect people’s fundamental rights. Finally, the free flow of data across borders ensures wide access to information.

SDG 17: International consensus on the scope and limitations of government and law enforcement data access is essential to disrupt the free flow of data and global macroeconomic stability.


The Internet is built on the idea that data can travel freely across global networks.

Acknowledging this reality, governments and law enforcement authorities have sought to ensure that they can still obtain data required for the investigation and prosecution of crime within their jurisdictions, or for national security purposes.

No matter how legitimate these measures may be, unilateral actions have raised concerns over the protection of people’s privacy and the protection of commercial information, leading to measures restricting the free flow of data across borders.

Governments, civil society, and industry must work together to develop consensus on common principles and rules defining when and under which conditions it is acceptable for a government, its national security agencies, and its law enforcement authorities to obtain data.

The purpose of this session is to explore credible consensus-building initiatives that seek to preserve the global Internet and the free flow of information, in particular the Council of Europe’s 2nd Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, and the OECD common principles on Government Access to Personal Data. All these initiatives share (or are expected to share) several core features:

● They seek to permit domestic law enforcement access to or the disclosure of data stored outside their jurisdiction;
● They set out due process safeguards and rule of law requirements for measures that interfere with the rights of individuals;
● They try to reconcile the interests of the law enforcement community and essential interests of a State – such as sovereignty, security and ordre public – with the interests of private sector online service providers and the rights and interests of citizens.

Speakers from governments, international organisations, civil society and industry will then present different solutions from their perspectives followed by a Q&A with on-site and online audience.

The session will start with a brief recap of the discussions in Workshop 288 at IGF 2019 on solutions for law enforcement to access data across borders information.

Expected Outcomes

(a) Establish focused multi-stakeholder dialogue on public/private and international cooperation regarding government data access and the necessary safeguards.
(b) Contribute to on-going and future multilateral initiatives to develop efficient criminal justice systems built on consensus and with human rights and rule of law safeguards.

This online workshop will be divided into 3 parts, with equal timing for each part:
First, each speaker will have 3-5 minutes for opening remarks (one third of the workshop).
The moderator will then open the discussion among the panelists (one third of the workshop).
Panelists will take questions from the audience for the rest of the work (one third of the workshop).

In total, the organisers are planning to allocate two-thirds of the workshop on open discussions between speakers and with the audience. The audience will be reminded twice to ask questions to the panelists: before the speakers’ opening remarks and before the panel discussion.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.