Cross-Border Data Policy: Opportunities and Challenges

Robert D. Atkinson Nigel Cory September 29, 2021
September 29, 2021

Robert D. Atkinson and Nigel Cory, “Cross-Border Data Policy: Opportunities and Challenges,” in Consensus or Conflict? China and Globalization in the 21st Century, edited by Huiyao Wang and Alistair Michie (Singapore: Springer, 2021), 217–232.

Abstract

Data governance and the management of global digital data flows pose immense challenges for global governance. International digital data agreements must be embedded in revisions of the global “rules-based” order that emerged out of Bretton Woods in the aftermath of World War II to manage global economic issues. In that spirit, the countries that value a rules-based global digital economy need to come together to enact new global data-management rules. It is becoming more and more critical to treat data as the key driver of today’s global economy. Creating new rules will require policymakers to alter their current approaches, which have led to a stalemate in making progress on frameworks for the global Internet. China should revise its restrictive approach so that it can play a more constructive role in debates and negotiations between like-minded countries. On China and Internet rules, if the Chinese Government retains its restrictive approach to data, AI, and digital trade, it will increasingly find itself excluded or marginalized in global discussions on digital issues. Many other countries see the Chinese approach as far from the baseline of emerging global norms and as self-serving for China from a trade perspective.