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Governing cross-border data flows: International trade agreements and their limits

04/11/2022 /1:00 PM - 2:30 PM GMT

Cross border data flow

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Dr. Christopher Decker (Research Fellow at Oxford University, OXGS Fellow)

Prof. Susan Ariel Aaronson (Research Professor and the Director of the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub at George Washington University, USA)

Prof. Mira Burri (Professor of International Economic and Internet Law, University of Lucerne, Switzerland)

Dr. Yik Chan Chin (Associate Professor at Beijing Normal University, China; OXGS Associate Fellow)

Dr. Mansi Kedia (Senior Fellow at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, India)

Event description:

The increasing digitisation of the economy and the emergence of global e-commerce have focused attention on the rules governing the cross-border flow of data. Currently, the rules for cross-border data sharing in different jurisdictions reflect a balancing of various rights, interest, and wider policy considerations (such as privacy, security and economic integration). The US has chosen to actively promote the free flow of data across borders. The EU has adopted more stringent rules that prioritise the protection of personal data rights through the GDPR. China’s cross-border data flow policy is closely tied with data sovereignty, national security and increasingly personal data protection. The rules in developing countries can often reflect industry policy considerations.

The different approaches to cross-border data flows raises two fundamental questions for international trade agreements. First, is the different data governance paradigms of major trading countries such as the US, China and the EU creating a new “digital divide” and restricting trade, including between developed and developing economies? Second, can (or should) any form of international cooperation on cross-border data sharing rules emerge through bilateral or regional trade agreements or is it possible for a multilateral and uniform international agreement on cross-border data flows?

Among the main topics that will be discussed in the webinar are:

  • What are the main considerations that have shaped the rules for cross-border data sharing in major economies such as the US/EU/China and elsewhere?
  • What are the areas of difference/divergence between the cross-border data rules in US/EU/China and elsewhere?
  • How feasible is the idea of developing a common international approach to cross-border data sharing, and what would need to happen to enable some convergence of the rules or to develop a common approach?
  • What institutional arrangements would need to be created to monitor and implement such common approach?
  • What are the risks of not developing a common international approach: will it lead to a digital divide? Would bilateral or regional trade agreements be adequate?

Bios of moderator/speakers

OXGS Fellow Chris Decker

Christopher Decker has over 20 years’ experience as a professional economist during which time he has combined an academic career with practical advisory work for government bodies, regulators and private clients. He is currently a Research Fellow specialising in law and economics and regulation at Oxford University. Christopher sits on a number of advisory panels including the UK Competition and Markets Authority academic panel; the UK Better Regulation Executive Network of Experts; an Expert Group of the United Nations Global Water Programme; and the Expert Panel of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Susan Ariel Aaronson is a Research Professor and the Director of the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub at the George Washington University. The Hub maps the governance of personal, public and proprietary data around the world and examines how it affects data driven tech, human autonomy and human rights.  The Hub also trains policymakers in data-governance, digital trade and emerging tech such as XR.  She is also a Senior Fellow at CIGI. She is the author of  6 books and numerous articles on digital trade, data governance, human rights, corruption, and good governance.

Mira Burri

Mira Burri is Professor of International Economic and Internet Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. She teaches international intellectual property, media, internet and trade law. Mira’s current research interests are in the areas of digital trade, culture, copyright, data protection and data governance. Mira is the principal investigator of the project ‘Trade Law 4.0’ (ERC Consolidator Grant 2021–2026). She consults the European Parliament, UNESCO, the WEF and others on issues of digital innovation and cultural diversity. Mira has co-edited the publications Trade Governance in the Digital Age (Cambridge University Press 2012) and Big Data and Global Trade Law (Cambridge University Press 2021). She is the author of Public Service Broadcasting 3.0: Legal Design for the Digital Present (Routledge 2015).

Yik Chan Chin

Yik Chan Chin  is Associate Professor at School of Journalism and Communication of Beijing Normal University. She teaches cyberspace governance, digital media law and ethics. Her current research areas include  comparative data governance,  digital platform governance, and digital media regulations and law.  She participates in the UN’s Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (OWEG), and is also individual member of ICANN’s APRALO and MSG member of the Asian Pacific Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) and China IGF. Her major interdisciplinary research papers are published in Political Science, Communication and Law journals.  Her latest article is on “Governing Cross-Border Data Flows: International Trade Agreements and Their Limits” (Laws, 2022).  She is the author of  Television Regulation and Media Policy in China (Routledge, 2016&7).

Mansi Kedia

Mansi Kedia is Senior Fellow at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. She has over 12 years of experience in policy research. Her areas of research include digital and telecommunication policy, tax and industrial policy. She has published papers/ reports on telecom and Internet regulations, impact of information technology including emerging technologies such as AI in India. She was appointed as a member of the Task Force rewriting the Direct Tax Code for India (2017). She is currently a Mid-Career Fellow of the Internet Society. She also has a background in management consulting and financial services with close to four years of experience in the private sector. She received her B.Sc. in Economics from St. Xavier’s, Kolkata and an MBA from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Her PhD is from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi.


1:00 PM - 2:30 PM GMT
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