Dear World Leaders: Tear Down Your Digital Walls
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The modern economy depends implicitly on the movement of digital information across borders. While the data traversing our search engines, social media platforms, and e-commerce sites is what captures the imagination, cross-border data flows arguably have their greatest impacts outside of the technology sector, in business-to-business contexts. It is not surprising that, as companies have internationalized, and innovation has accelerated, governments in every part of the world have struggled to respond. While it is appropriate for governments to rely on national regulatory tools to address these policy considerations, they too frequently do so in a manner that neglects the benefits of global coordination. In this environment of tectonic political change, the world’s leading governments have the opportunity to both advance these important public interests and to secure the benefits of a data-driven global economy. To do so, however, they must pursue their national priorities mindful of the global character of the challenges. This means seeking international compatibility of national regulatory approaches, using international organizations to find policy recipes that coexist with national law, and negotiating new international rules to advance shared interests. Only a shared commitment to global coordination, mindful of course of national conditions, will ensure success in driving economic growth and protecting public interests.