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Data Governance

Data is the fuel that powers the digital economy. But rules for handling data vary from country to country, creating barriers to cross-border data distribution and harming the interests of society as a whole. Until now, there has been no forum for multi-stakeholder discussions on the full range of issues related to international data distribution, including privacy, security, and access rights.

The Japan Centre hosted a “Data Policy Dialogue” in November 2018, advocating that data governance should be positioned as the most important issue of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2019, Japan presented “Data Free Flow with Trust” as a framework for promoting data distribution ('Defeatism about Japan is now defeated’: Read Abe’s Davos speech in full, 23 January, 2019). In June of the same year, at the G20 Osaka Summit hosted by Japan, the "Osaka Track" was launched, marking the birth of the first international initiative on data distribution.

Currently, we are studying and implementing data governance based on three pillars: (1) cross-border data flows, (2) the Data for Common Purpose Initiative (DCPI), and (3) redesigning trust by updating regulations and rules (governance innovation)

Leaders at the Forum’s Annual Meeting in January 2020 provided multi-stakeholder inputs to the Osaka Track and cross-border data flows (Building Trust in Data Flows, 23 January, 2020).

In June 2020, the Japan Centre governance team published the white paper "DFFT: Paths towards Free and Trusted Data Flows, 10 June, 2020," with input from leaders from business, international organizations, and academia around the world. The group has mapped tools that policy-makers and business can use to collaborate to ensure that data is safe, protected and accessible when it moves abroad. Building such trust can, in turn, help countries remove barriers to cross-border data flows.

Since December 2020, we have been exploring the benefits of deeper cooperation on data governance through public-private dialogues held in India, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. The workshop discussions have served to review national data policy developments and identify avenues for facilitating data transfers. A white paper on advancing data-flow governance in the Asia-Pacific region explores international and regional best practices in four domestic contexts (Advancing Data Flow Governance in the Indo-Pacific: Four Country Analyses and Dialogues, 13 April, 2021). The insights captured can be used as a reference for data-flow governance debates everywhere, particularly from an economic development perspective.

In December 2020, the World Economic Forum announced the launch of the Data for Common Purpose Initiative (DCPI). With over 50 global partners from 20 countries, including 10 governments, the initiative aims to drive innovation in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by accelerating the development of trustworthy and equitable data marketplaces (World Economic Forum Launches Initiative to Enable Equitable and Trusted Use of Data for Global Common Good, 08 December, 2020).

In April 2021, the Forum held a session titled “Making Data Work for All” at the Global Technology Governance Summit hosted by Japan (Making Data Work for All, 06 April, 2021). In advance of the session, we published a white paper that highlights use cases from industries and jurisdictions around the world to illustrate the possibilities that data sharing unlocks for multiple stakeholders and the public good (Data-driven Economies: Foundations for Our Common Future, 05 April, 2021).

These projects are part of the Forum platforms "Shaping the Future of Technology Governance: Data Policy" and "Shaping the Future of Trade and Global Economic Interdependence".

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