Talking about data with Hiroki Habuka, Deputy Director for Global Digital Governance, Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Japan

Published on
July 5, 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. 

Hiroki Habuka is Deputy Director for Global Digital Governance, Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Japan 


Why do we need to talk about data?

In today's rapidly changing and extremely complex society, it is not possible for the government only to set detailed rules in advance and ask business or stakeholders and citizens to just follow the rules.

In order to form trust in the digitalized society, not only the government but also various stakeholders, such as companies, individuals and communities will play a leading role in data governance.

What is the most important key message from the I&JPN Report?

The I&JPN Report explores the relationship between cross-border data free flow and national sovereignty. How to build trust is a really important issue.

When considering data policy approaches, why should we be thinking about our “common Datasphere”?

In the G20 summit held in Japan, two years ago, the national leaders agreed on the concept of data free flow with trust or the DFFT.

DFFT pursues free flow of data in a trustworthy environment maximizing the value that data brings and thereby solve the global challenges we face such as risks to privacy, security, democracy, environment, and human rights.

However, achieving the DFFT is not so easy. First of all, we have to appropriately frame the issues: why is data free flow important? In fact, data free flow, maybe in a trade-off with risks to privacy or intellectual properties. The concept of the Datasphere encourages us to see these issues through a holistic lens.

How can we foster a collaborative discussion moving forward?

This multistakeholder approach is important in the entire process of governance, starting from setting the goals and then designing rules, organizations and technologies and finally evaluating and improving the governance mechanisms. Also, the entire process should be around rapidly and flexibly. The Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Japan will issue a final report on this concept which is called “Agile Governance” in July 2021.