Cross-border e-commerce is worth an estimated $2.7 trillion worldwide. Much of this wealth creation relies on cross-border data flows — a status quo that is increasingly under threat.
However, cross-border data flows are increasingly becoming an arena for friction between states and frustration among businesses. Fragmented regulatory regimes are holding back what should be an even more transformative — and life-enhancing — digital revolution.
The basic dilemma is this: countries know that allowing data to flow across borders has wide-ranging benefits, but they are reluctant to give up control. Regulating how data is used within their own jurisdictions is hard enough; they don’t always trust outside organizations — be they governments or technology companies — to steward their citizens’ data responsibly. The result has been a growing number of often confusing, conflicting data regulations. Add in language barriers and other country-specific obstacles, and the task for those who want to want to maximise the potential of data while complying with national regulations becomes even more daunting.