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Collective action can spark innovation for data flows


The UK, Japan, and EU can lead the way in using the G7 ‘data free flow with trust’ roadmap to ensure data transfers with robust security and privacy standards.

‘Data free flow with trust’ (DFFT) – which seeks to enable cross-border free flow of data while addressing concerns over privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights, and security – has been a priority of global digital policy coordination since the G20 first raised it during Japan’s 2019 presidency.

Although positively received by a wide range of countries which recognize the potential economic and social benefits of enabling a greater cross-border flow of data, it is not easy to introduce common legal frameworks to ensure DFFT. Countries often have varied domestic and regional legal frameworks due to different concepts of privacy or data security.

The G7 did put digital policy at the centre of its 2021 agenda, discussing broad digital and technology shifts from physical infrastructure such as 5G, future communication technologies, and technical standards to soft infrastructure, such as rule-making on data flow and internet safety principles. And one notable outcome was the establishment of the G7 Roadmap for Cooperation on Data Free Flow with Trust at the G7 Digital and Technology Ministers’ meeting in April 2021 – also endorsed by two of the G7’s guest countries South Korea and Australia.

But despite shared democratic values of open and competitive markets, strong safeguards for human rights, and fundamental freedoms, the G7 and its partners have different ideas on how best to approach DFFT, and so greater UK-EU-Japan policy coordination to overcome any inconsistencies in approach can play a key role.

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