Talking About Data Blog

Published on
April 1, 2021

The Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network has released a Report “We Need to Talk About Data: Framing the Debate Around the Free Flow of Data and Data Sovereignty”. The Report presents concerns and perspectives around these polarizing policy concepts and offers recommendations on how to move forward. To unpack the key messages and explore the next steps I&JPN spoke to the Report’s contributors to ask how I&JPN can foster a collaborative discussion on how to organize our common Datasphere.

Data are central to the modern world. Very little of what we are used to, benefiting from, and indeed relying upon, would work without accurate data. With anything so important, we need a constantly ongoing discussion. 

The multistakeholder approach is important in the entire process of governance, starting from setting the goals, then designing rules, organizations and technologies and finally evaluating and improving the governance mechanisms.

Striving to achieve common objectives, such as maximizing well-being and defining the distributions of responsibilities among actors, could guide efforts to solve some of the challenges.


The world around us has fundamentally changed.  A holistic and whole-of-government approach to data is needed to fully realise its benefits and address its challenges. 


Informed regulatory innovation is a prerequisite for finding solutions that build trust in the data ecosystem.

I am of the belief that technical solutions will be key to generating a step-change in safe data flows as we look to build trust and move towards a better, more technologically sophisticated society.

Multistakeholder cooperation is the only way forward. We should be considering how can we as organizations, businesses, governments, academic experts, civil society organizations, NGOs, all put our heads together and look at data issues in a lateral and holistic manner.


Building a participatory methodology for addressing the challenges of the digital age is as important as addressing the problems themselves. Clearly, there is a need for data governance, but that does not necessarily mean that it must be done in the traditional way for something that is so very different.


International collaboration around data is an important part of addressing our big challenges like climate change or the response and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic; we need to avoid balkanization so we can build on each other’s work.