How to create greater international collaboration on data governance

27 Apr 2022 16:00h - 17:00h

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Event report

The session addressed the importance of greater international collaboration on data governance, bringing together experts from a wide variety of backgrounds to assess the state of play in data and digital governance from different perspectives and implications on data development.  

The moderator, Mr Robert Fay (Managing Director, Centre for International Governance Innovation), launched this discussion by stating that developing countries appear at a severe disadvantage in their ability to harness their data for development for several reasons, including the lack of skills and resources, the complexity of international data governance, and the difficulty of assessing the state of play in these governance arrangements. 

Ms Susan Aaronson (Professor and Director, Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub) presented the work of the Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub to help stakeholders and policymakers understand digital trade and data governance issues. This includes the Data Governance Mapping Project that aims to illuminate how countries govern personal, public, and proprietary data at the national and international levels. The methodology consisted of dividing data governance into six attributes (the dimensions in which nations act while governing data), then further subdivided into 26 indicators of specific evidence of action. This research shows that many high- and middle-income nations have made significant progress in data governance and that most of the high-performing countries are located in Europe. Aaronson argued that current trade agreements are insufficient in making sure that small companies and consumers can harness the potential of data.  

Dr Silvana Fumega (Project Director, Global Data Barometer) described the work conducted by the Global Data Barometer, a collaborative project that aims to measure the state of data in relation to urgent societal issues. The Barometer assesses countries around the world on a set of robust comparative metrics focused on data for the public good. To do so, the Barometer draws on more than 100 country-level researchers. Governance and capability are core components of the Barometer and contain a series of primary indicators designed to provide a country-wide assessment of such critical issues related to the development of an effective data ecosystem. Finally, the Barometer captures the extent to which countries are managing data for the public good, including sustainable development, data on development, openness, inclusion, gender and diversity, and emerging AI practices.

Ms Lorrayne Porciuncula (Executive Director, Datasphere Initiative) presented the Datasphere Initiative, which seeks to create the world’s first global network of stakeholders fostering a holistic and innovative approach to data governance to build agile frameworks to responsibly unlock the value of data. The Datasphere Initiative had been incubated by the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and was launched in April 2022 during a G7 multistakeholder meeting hosted by the Government of Germany in Berlin. The launch event marked the release of the Datasphere Initiative flagship report, the Datasphere Governance Atlas. The Datasphere Governance Atlas maps organisations from around the world with a mission to address the multidimensional topic of data governance. Finally, the Datasphere Initiative is also producing a report examining the model of regulatory sandboxes, what they stand for, and how they could offer workable solutions for cross-border data flows. Porciuncula argued that sometimes standardised policy solutions are not well-suited to certain contexts and require the testing environments precisely provided by sandboxes. 

Ms Folashade Soulé-Kohndou (Researcher, University of Oxford) discussed the preliminary results of her research work, looking specifically at how African governmental actors negotiate and manage partnerships with China in the digital sector. The rivalry of governments and businesses rushing to strengthen strategic ties with African countries is obvious and needs to be questioned. There is a need to address the agency of African actors in this context. This justifies the need for the recent Africa-China negotiation workshop series bringing together African negotiators and senior policymakers to exchange and build better negotiation practices when dealing with China.

By Clément Perarnaud