Market Overview

GSMA: Free Flow of Data across Borders Essential for Asia's Digital Economies


Opportunity to Expand Global Trade and Increase GDP by Harmonising
Data Privacy Frameworks Across the Region

Governments in Asia can expand the region's digital economy and unlock
further socio-economic benefits for their citizens by removing
unnecessary restrictions on the movement of data internationally,
according to a new report released by the GSMA today at the Mobile 360 –
Digital Societies conference in Bangkok. The study, ‘Regional Privacy
Frameworks and Cross-Border Data Flows', reveals that striking the right
balance in the region's data privacy regulations could significantly
enhance economic activity and future innovation in 5G, the Internet of
Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Over the past decade, international data flows have increased global GDP
by 10.1 per cent, and their annual contribution to global GDP has
already surpassed US $2.8 trillion1 – a larger share than the
global trade in goods. The ability to transfer, store and process data
enables commerce, spurs innovation, and drives the development of new
technologies, platforms, services and infrastructure.

Although the Asia Pacific region has made good progress in the
development of data privacy frameworks that protect consumers while also
allowing data to flow across borders, the report highlights that
variances in data privacy laws across countries is holding back trade
and innovation. The report also calls for better links at a regional
level between Asia's two main privacy frameworks – the ASEAN Framework
on Personal Data Protection and the APEC Privacy Framework – to enable
cross-border data flows.

"The immense economic opportunities arising from the digital economy and
data flows are indisputable," said Boris Wojtan, Director of Privacy,
GSMA. "Working towards a pan-Asian approach to data privacy is critical
to protecting the rights of individuals and unlocking this economic
potential, not only in Asia, but around the world. Regulating people's
personal information by a patchwork of geographically bound privacy laws
will only restrict how Asian companies can innovate and bring better
products and services to consumers in the future. Now is an important
time for all countries to take actions to bridge the differences in
their privacy regulation and achieve greater alignment."

The study evaluated various regional data privacy frameworks and their
key principles, while diving down into individual countries to identify
national approaches to privacy regulation. It highlights specific steps
that all countries, including less developed states, can take to support
greater alignment across Asia. Some of the key recommendations included
in the report are:

  • APEC and ASEAN governments should consider the options outlined in the
    study to bridge the differences between their respective privacy
    frameworks and seek interoperability with other regional frameworks;
  • Countries should advance the alignment of national-level privacy
    regimes by conducting a landscape analysis to see where they stand in
    terms of data privacy and reviewing the experience of other
    governments in the region to understand common paths forward;
  • Policymakers in government and privacy enforcement authorities should
    support deeper collaboration and cross-learning across the region; and
  • Governments should also draw on non-government privacy experts in the
    private sector and academia to inform their approaches.

The GSMA also today released its report, ‘Cross-Border Data Flows:
Realising Benefits and Removing Barriers', which describes the benefits
of global data flows for individuals, businesses and governments, and
explores the damaging impact of increased data localisation measures,
which can either require companies to store data locally, or even
prohibit companies from transferring personal data altogether. The
report calls for governments globally to commit to removing unnecessary
localisation measures and enable data to flow cross-border through
improved approaches to protecting people's data.

The ‘Regional Privacy Frameworks and Cross-Border Data Flows' report is
available here
in English.

The ‘Cross-Border Data Flows: Realising Benefits and Removing Barriers'
report is available here
in English.


Notes to Editors:

1. McKinsey Global Institute, ‘Digital Globalisation: The New Era of
Global Flows' (2016)

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting
more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile
ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies,
equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in
adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading
events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai,
Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at
Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

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