UNCTAD Digital Economy Report 2021

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its “UNCTAD Digital Economy Report 2021, recently.

Key Findings of report

  • In its report, UNCTAD noted the Philippines as one among six countries that allows free flow of data across borders. Free flow of data is required to boost the digital economy.
  • Other five countries allowing free-flow of data across border include- Canada, Australia, Mexico, Singapore and the United States. These countries use “light-touch approach” for data flow.

Light-touch approach

Light-touch approach is mostly favoured by countries having strong regulatory environments and sufficient regulatory resources in order to monitor compliance of domestic laws. As per report, Philippines’s use of light-touch approach is towards its “dependence” on the outsourcing industry, which is the major economic growth drivers in the country.

Counties following restrictive or Guarded approach

The “restrictive” or “guarded” approach for cross-border data flows is followed by countries like India, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Russian Federation, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

UNCTAD recommendations

  • UNCTAD recommends that the global community should enable free flow of digital data across the borders. It suggests to make an international framework in order to allow such activities. New approach should:
  1. Facilitate “worldwide data sharing,
  2. Develop global digital public goods,
  3. Increase trust and
  4. Reduce uncertainty in the digital economy.
  • As per UNCTAD, no global framework would mean added burden in protecting the privacy for private sector as well as government use of data.
  • Thus, a new regulatory framework is required that factors in both economic and non-economic dimensions.

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