If 2018 was the year that the European Union made clear its views on the importance of personal data privacy via the GDPR, then 2019 is set to be the year when the rest of the world follows suit.
The year is still young, yet has already seen impassioned debate on the subject at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, told delegates that data regulation will be one of two primary subjects for the G20 summit he is hosting in Osaka in June. The other will be climate change.
He said: “I call on all of us to rebuild trust toward the system for international trade. That should be a system that is fair, transparent, and effective in protecting IP (intellectual property) and also in such areas as e-commerce and government procurement.”
He added that, working with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to encompass trade in data as well as in goods, personal and security data must be given greater protections, at the same time as allowing the free flow of data such as medical, industrial and traffic.
“I’d like Osaka G20 to be remembered as a summit that started worldwide data governance,” he said.
Angela Merkel, meanwhile, called for the European Union to have a “common digital market”. The German chancellor said international oversight of data usage was necessary to head off widescale opposition to the entire tech sector.
And in the US, which is pondering what the future of consumer data privacy looks like, while still allowing businesses to innovate, several bills have been put forward. America has had to adjust to how it views personal data privacy after the introduction of GDPR, which covers any business holding data on EU citizens, and many in Silicon Valley – notably Apple – are now keen on the introduction of complimentary federal data privacy legislation.
So, what does all this mean? Clearly, it’s a patchwork of different legislations and agendas across the world, which will bear regulatory fruit of vastly differing quality.
BUT…it shows a worldwide acknowledgement and the basics of debate, at the very least, of the importance of personal data privacy.
And as long as that debate continues, in whatever form and language, that can only be a good thing for those of who know a Personal Data Economy which encompasses the whole world is increasingly in reach.