Digital Economy Report 2021: cross-border data flows and development - for whom the data flow

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of digital transformation and added urgency for Governments to respond. A key challenge is how to govern and harness the surge in digital data for the global good. It has been estimated that global Internet traffic in 2022 will exceed all the Internet traffic up to 2016. Data have become a key strategic asset for the creation of both private and social value. How these data are handled will greatly affect our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Determining what is the best way forward will be difficult but necessary. Data are multidimensional, and their use has implications not just for trade and economic development but also for human rights, peace and security. Responses are also needed to mitigate the risk of abuse and misuse of data by States, non- State actors or the private sector. Against this background, the Digital Economy Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which examines the implications of growing cross-border data flows, especially for developing countries. It proposes to reframe and broaden the international policy debate with a view to building multilateral consensus. It is more important than ever to embark on a new path for digital and data governance. The current fragmented data landscape risks us failing to capture value that could accrue from digital technologies and it may create more space for substantial harms related to privacy breaches, cyberattacks and other risks.