IGF 2023 WS #197 Operationalizing data free flow with trust

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (08:00 UTC) - Monday, 9th October, 2023 (09:30 UTC)
WS 1 – Annex Hall 1

Organizer 1: Timea Suto, 🔒International Chamber of Commerce
Organizer 2: Rose Payne, International Chamber of Commerce

Speaker 1: Maarit Palovirta, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Wolfgang Kopf, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Raúl Echeberría, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Sheetal Kumar, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Nwakanma Nnenna, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 6: David Pendle 
Speaker 7: Carl Gahnberg, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Timea Suto, Private Sector, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Rose Payne, Private Sector, Intergovernmental Organization


Meni ANASTASIADOU, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

What are the main challenges to address in order to overcome Internet fragmentation, and what policy elements are necessary to maintain and expand trusted cross-border data flows, and restoring the open and free-flowing nature of the Internet? How can the erosion of trust in cross-border data flows be addressed and DFFT be operationalized globally, leveraging existing international agreements and accepted principles related to trusted government access to data?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The session will equip participants with an understanding of the challenges and risks posed by unilateral and non-compatible policy approaches to data governance to the open, free, and unfragmented Internet and the functioning of the global, interconnected digital economy. Discussions will take stock of existing initiatives that are building a foundation for global, and interoperable approaches to enable trusted cross-border data flows and data governance, paying particular attention to the protection of human rights, privacy, public safety and national security. Based on this taking stock exercise, participants will have the opportunity to share good practices and offer recommendations on horizontal, globally interoperable approaches that avoid the fragmentation of vital flows that not only sustain global trade and the economy but also the delivery of essential public and social services, building on existing multilateral agreements wherever possible.


  1. Mr Raul Echeberria, Executive Director, Latinamerican Internet Association (ALAI)
  2. Mr Carl Gahnberg, Director of Policy Development and Research, Internet Society
  3. Mr Wolfgang Kopf, Senior Vice President for Group Public and Regulatory Affairs, Deutsche Telecom
  4. Ms Sheetal Kumar, Head of Global Engagement and Advocacy, Global Partners Digital (GPD)
  5. Ms Nnenna Nwakanma, Board Member, International Digital Health & AI Research Collaborative (I-DAIR)
  6. Ms Maarit Palovirta, Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs, European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO), Private Sector
  7. Mr Dave Pendle, Assistant General Counsel, Law Enforcement & National Security, Microsoft


Amid global health, financial and geopolitical crises that pose risks to the very functioning of a rules-based multilateral system, enacting policy frameworks that enable the open, interconnected and interoperable nature of the Internet is essential. Trusted global data flows are a formidable engine for innovation, competitiveness, and growth and a powerful catalyst for socioeconomic empowerment. Nonetheless, mistrust in cross-border data transfers continues to grow due to concerns that national security, privacy or economic safety could be compromised if data transcends borders. This increasingly fuels restrictive policies and measures like digital protectionism, data mercantilism and data localization. Such approaches deepen Internet fragmentation, segregating information that underpins a broad range of socioeconomic activities and undermining cybersecurity protection. Furthermore, unilateral policies exacerbate existing divides and may result in a patchwork of conflicting regulations, discouraging individuals’, businesses,’ and governments’ participation in a global economy. Instead, horizontal, interoperable, and technologically neutral policy frameworks are needed to unlock the benefits of data while respecting fundamental human rights, including the right to privacy, and protecting public safety. This would reinforce trust in cross-border data flows, boost data-driven innovation, and tap into the potential socioeconomic benefits of data sharing. Moving towards such a solution depends largely on governments working together, with multistakeholder input, to develop interoperable policy frameworks. Notable developments that progress such frameworks include Japan’s leadership in promoting Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) at the 2019 G20 Summit, the OECD Declaration on Government Access to Personal Data Held by Private Sector Entities in 2022, and the G7 2023 consensus to operationalize DFFT with the establishment of the Institutional Arrangement for Partnership (IAP). This workshop will explore the causes and challenges of fragmentation in data governance approaches, take stock of existing initiatives to bridge divides and explore next steps for operationalizing data free flow with trust globally.

Expected Outcomes

The session will address the main challenges of Internet fragmentation, aiming to shed light on the root causes that hinder the open, sound and free-flowing architecture of the Internet. In particular, the session will uncover the impact of unilateral policy approaches to data flows, including the erosion of trust in data flows that transcend borders and regulations. The session will also lay out the framework necessary to reconcile Internet fragmentation, focusing on cross-border data flows with trust.

Hybrid Format: Prior to the session: to ensure speakers and attendees get the most out of the session, regardless of their chosen way of participation, organizers will make use of the session’s page on the IGF website and social media channels to share preparatory material and kick-start a dialogue. A preparation call will be organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers so that everyone has the chance to meet and prepare for the session. During the session: the moderators are experienced in animating multistakeholder discussions and will complement each other in merging onsite and online speakers and attendees to the optimum. Onsite participants will be encouraged to connect to the online platform to stay informed and engage with discussions in the chat. Following the session: moderators will encourage participants to make use of the IGF website and social media channels to share further comments and contribute to the session’s report.