Expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative and Greater Bay Area, together with the rapid rise of the digital economic transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have increased data flows in and out of Hong Kong. Data flows are clearly important in a wide range of sectors in which Hong Kong has or aims to acquire a leading position such as finance, commerce and e-commerce, collaboration (e.g. via remote meeting or lessons) and artificial intelligence (AI) systems.
In short, data flows are important to Hong Kong’s economic prosperity but to date the jurisdiction has not taken active steps to formulate a clear, coherent and comprehensive policy. Data Flow 2 Go, and the larger project of which this is a part funded by the Hong Kong Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office’s Public Policy Research Funding Scheme for the project entitled Regulating Cross-Border Data: A Public Policy Framework for Hong Kong (Project No. 2019.A4.064.19D), asks the question whether Hong Kong needs to consider a more coordinated approach to managing cross-border data flows.
Data Flow 2 Go, organised by the Transnational Economic Law and Dispute Settlement (TELDS) group at Centre for Comparative and Transnational Law, gathered academic and industry specialists both in government and business to address these pivotal issues. Some of the revelations and insights provided during the session included:
The ubiquity of data and the global interconnection of systems renders cross border data governance more complex, and the continuous and fast-moving technological transformation more difficult to address. The Data Flow 2 Go event provided important new awareness, but could only scratch the surface of such complexity and highlight the need for more research in this area where fast moving technological transformation challenges existing legal structures and requires proactive policies.