Hunton & Williams, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently issued Business Without Borders: The Importance of Cross-Border Data Transfers to Global Prosperity, a report which highlights the benefits of cross-border data transfers to businesses in the international marketplace. The report underscores the importance of developing data transfer mechanisms that protect privacy and facilitate the free-flow of data, and also explores opportunities for new data transfer regimes.
On July 8, 2014, lead Hunton & Williams co-author Bridget Treacy, head of the firm’s UK Privacy and Cybersecurity practice, introduced the report during a panel event in Brussels, hosted by The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The event, titled Business Without Borders: Exploring Ways to Move and Protect Data, focused on digital trade and provided a platform for companies to discuss the policies necessary to ensure success in the Information Age. Treacy addressed the degree to which today’s businesses rely on cross-border data flows and digital commerce.
“The seamless transfer of data across borders is what allows the global economy to grow and prosper,” said Treacy. “Privacy safeguards are critical, but to encourage global growth, we need to re-think how data should flow globally — data need not be constrained by national boundaries.”
Lisa Sotto, head of Hunton & Williams’ Global Privacy and Cybersecurity practice, is co-author of the report, which recommends movement away from inflexible cross-border data transfer rules toward more nimble outcome-focused frameworks.
The report identifies key concepts critical to ensuring agile cross-border data transfer regimes that will support the global data flows of the future, including:
- Recognition that there are many different approaches to regulating cross-border data transfers, and that differing mechanisms can ensure a similar desired level of data protection.
- Movement away from rigid one-size-fits-all regulations toward more outcome-focused regimes.
- A clear delineation between the issue of government access to data and the distinct issue of cross-border data transfers in a commercial context.
- Assurance that the frameworks we develop today are fit for tomorrow.
- Implementing strong, binding trade agreement commitments that prohibit data localization requirements, support unimpeded data flows, and encourage interoperability among privacy regimes.