Many wealthy states are transitioning to a new economy built on data. Individuals and firms in these states have expertise in using data to create new goods and services as well as in how to use data to solve complex problems. Other states may be rich in data but do not yet see their citizens’ personal data or their public data as an asset. Most states are learning how to govern and maintain trust in the data-driven economy; however, many developing countries are not well positioned to govern data in a way that encourages development. Meanwhile, some 76 countries are developing rules and exceptions to the rules governing cross-border data flows as part of new negotiations on e-commerce. This paper uses a wide range of metrics to show that most developing and middle-income countries are not ready or able to provide an environment where their citizens’ personal data is protected and where public data is open and readily accessible. Not surprisingly, greater wealth is associated with better scores on all the metrics. Yet, many industrialized countries are also struggling to govern the many different types and uses of data. The paper argues that data governance will be essential to development, and that donor nations have a responsibility to work with developing countries to improve their data governance.
Data Is a Development Issue
CIGI Paper No. 223