US Congresswoman Calls to Counter China on Global Data Governance Standards
PoliticsKitty Wang

“While updating our domestic laws needs to be a top priority in Congress, it is equally important that we reassert ourselves on the world stage, and make sure we are helping shape global digital governance,” said US Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.

In February of this year, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) submitted a report to Congress, stating that the United States lacks a comprehensive Internet privacy law. They suggested that federal legislation should be conducted on cybersecurity and data privacy.

The European Parliament approved the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2016, and it has been implemented since May last year. It is considered to be the Golden Standard in current data privacy regulation. In January of this year, the EU and Japan mutually recognized each other’s data protection laws as providing an adequate level of protection of personal data. As a result, nearly all personal data can now flow freely between the EU and Japan.

For China, the 2nd largest economy in the world, their treatment of Cybersecurity and Data privacy is quite different. In 2016, China passed the Cyber Security Law, which controls cross-border data transfer based on the so-called “network sovereignty principle” and forces foreign companies operating in China to store data locally. At the same time, the CCP has been exporting its authoritarian model overseas through its Digital Silk Road project.

“Chinese companies like Alibaba and Tencent are going global, and so now, their approach to data, and handling of data are coming under a lot of scrutiny. Particularly in the EU, this is going to become a big issue this year. And companies like Huawei, which was a big topic of the Barcelona (Mobile World Congress) discussion. There was a big meeting,” said Paul Triolo, Practice Head of Geo-technology, Eurasia Group.

The United States is actively promoting the reform of the World Trade Organization, and data governance is an important part of that. Whether the United States, Japan, and the EU can reach an agreement on this issue will determine if they can deal with the China challenge.

“I was pleased last month that 76 countries agreed to start negotiations to put in place global rules on e-commerce. However I am worried that the inclusion of China in these talks could open the door to obstruction and a weakened agreement, since their current digital regime is so radically different from our own,” said DelBene

In June this year, the G20 summit will be held in Osaka, Japan. Data governance is one of the key topics. Congresswoman DelBene believes that the United States must work with like-minded countries to develop a high-standard agreement and then allow other countries to join.

“The search for interoperability here is going to be tough, because of the differences (of rules) you mentioned. But I think, again, both western companies doing businesses in China and Chinese companies doing businesses globally need to be able to inter-operate, need to be able to exchange data,” said Triolo.

Kate Wang, NTD News