April 2021

Digital divides could disconnect the world

A world of seamless information flows, which many had forecast a decade or so ago — a world of full scale “information internationalism” — looks less and less likely today. We are moving ever closer to three “data-governance zones” (DGZs) characterized by three often sharply different sets of rules for regulating personal and business information and the enormous amounts of data flowing among nations: a world often referred to as one of “information nationalism.” Differences among these zones and countries include: the role of government in obtaining access to data; limits of various types on the ability of companies to collect, store and utilize data; differing levels and rules of transparency required for obtaining and utilizing data; divergent rules and restrictions on localization of data storage; and sharp variations in the level and methods of user consent.

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