Global High-tech Players’ Local Considerations
By admin February 11, 2019

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Some studies show that the significant increase in the access to the Internet and digital services in the developing world was to a large extent attributed to the activities of large multinational high-tech corporations. However, despite prospective economic and social outcomes, a growing number of governments from these countries have expressed concern over their outsized impact and the constraints governments are facing in regulating these activities.

In an era where data is increasingly defined as a source of strategic resource and structural power of the digital economy, data-driven multinationals have seen data localization strategies on the rise in their global footprint.

Business purpose mandates that adapting to local needs would be a significant drive for expansion and innovation. One of the great advantages of world markets’ great diversity and regional variations is that they offer rich application scenarios for Internet and technology products and solutions. The American technology and consulting giant IBM has set up 12 localized research hubs across six continents so far. While focusing on cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and Internet of Things, tech giants are partnering with local players and universities to demonstrate how analytics can be utilized to address local needs such as education and healthcare, as the Africa research hub illustrates.

On the other hand, global corporations have to respond to various concerns coming from host countries, over a wide range of issues including market concentration, disinformation on social media platforms, privacy and data protection as well as the fight over data ownership. Even though the international norm on global data governance makes default, data localization measures are on the rise around the world. Data localization laws are defined as regulations restricting the storage of data to within the borders of a country, or within jurisdictions where data flows are guaranteed an adequate level of protection. The EU and some European countries have brought in such data localization measures with privacy protection in mind, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Such laws also exist in regions like Canada, Russia, Australia, and China. Recent policy actions include India’s government enacting a policy restricting international transfer of data since late 2018.

Given the fragmented nature of the global Internet world resulting from disparate local characteristics and competing social values, technology companies have to reevaluate their relationships with governments and vice versa. At the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the appeal from country leaders for a new international system for the oversight of how data is used could be an important initial step toward worldwide data governance.


For More Information

Big Tech in the Developing World

A Data Localization Free-for-All?

Governing Big Tech’s Pursuit of the “Next Billion Users”

World Leaders at Davos Call for Global Rules on Tech

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): What you need to know to stay compliant

Data Localization: A Challenge to Global Commerce and the Free Flow of Information

Trade, Cross-Border Data, and the Next Regulatory Frontier: Law enforcement and data localization requirements

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