Emerging from their first meeting in 20 years, G7 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministers agreed on a new global approach to ICT policy over the weekend in Takamatsu, Japan. They announced agreement on two documents: 1) a G7 “Charter for the Digitally Connected World;” and 2) a “Joint Declaration,” which is a government-led action plan for implementing the Charter. Both of these documents contain important outcomes for promoting future global economic growth. But the most fundamental outcome is that the G7 has agreed to promote and protect the free flow of information across borders via the Internet – including opposing data localization requirements, while promoting effective privacy/data protections and cybersecurity policies.
In late February ITI, along with our partner associations the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Association (JEITA) and DIGITALEUROPE, offered a set of recommended outcomes to G7 Leaders and Ministers concerning technology and innovation that covered these and other issues, including commitment to open markets. Since then, we have broadly promoted these recommendations, including through a briefing our associations led at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) E-Commerce Week meetings in Geneva on April 18 and at our policy discussion among senior industry and G7 officials in Tokyo on April 27.
We are pleased the G7 governments reflected, often word for word, our recommendations in the Charter and Joint Declaration. By advancing these principles, G7 governments are well-positioned to shape ICT policy for our global economy and address pressing challenges that governments and industries face – such as harmful data localization requirements that threaten to split the Internet, undermine innovation, and therefore inhibit the expansion and benefits of digital technologies.
The G7’s united approach towards promoting free flows of data and information across borders now has effectively set the stage for the larger G20 meetings to follow. We are hopeful that when G7 Leaders meet this May in Ise-Shima, Japan, they will send a strong message regarding this united approach to G20 Leaders before they gather this September in Hangzhou, China.
ITI, DIGITALEUROPE, and JEITA are now considering how to engage with the G20 and build on the positive G7 outcomes stemming from our recommendations on data flows and localization measures, cybersecurity, privacy and data protection, standards and technical regulations, transparency and stakeholder consultation, and commitments to open markets. At the very least, whether under China’s leadership this year or Germany’s next year, G20 countries should discuss the same issues if they wish to advance global economic growth, innovation, digital technologies, and connectedness.