Commission and Brookings Hold Meeting Launching New Project on Protecting Data Flow

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On May 28, 2013, David Dreier, Chairman of the Annenberg Dreier Commission at Sunnylands, was joined by Dr. Joshua Meltzer of the Brookings Institution, for the launch of the Commission’s project on Cross Border Data Flow at a meeting at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica, California.

The project’s goal is the development of a set of practical principles to preserve the free flow of data throughout the Greater Pacific and beyond.

The May 28th meeting gathered a group of 15 experts from 6 Pacific Rim countries, who discussed key challenges surrounding this issue, particularly with respect to its importance to business and economic development. The group was joined by former Commerce Secretary and U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, New Zealand Ambassador (and former WTO Director General) Mike Moore, and Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands President Geoff Cowan.

The Commission’s focus is on open data flow as a trade issue. However, Dreier–who has long been focused on the issue of data flow–noted that the issue has much broader societal impact.

The free flow of data is a core element of the Internet that has underpinned this growth in connectivity, innovation and productivity. This freedom has been vital to the growth of digital trade in goods and services, a quickly growing share of global GDP as citizens, businesses and government’s access to global services such as cloud computing, and health and education opportunities. And entrepreneurs in developing countries are using the Internet to sell their products globally, using international financial services to process transactions. It has also been a critical factor in the explosive growth of access to information and human opportunity.

In an article posted May 23 by Brookings, Dreier and Meltzer noted a variety of restrictive practices and norms now being embraced by a number of countries effectively threaten open data flow. Developing a common understanding of these challenges, they argued, and charting a way forward, “may ultimately be key to global stability, security, and growth—in short, to building the collaboration necessary to sustain a world we’d want to live in.”

The Commission will continue to work with partners throughout the Greater Pacific in the coming year to establish the basis for key principles that can governments and companies protect data flow while still meeting societies’ legitimate needs for security, privacy, and other requirements.