CROSS-BORDER data flow requires an enabling environment if the Philippines is to unlock the competitiveness of its digital trade and data-driven industries, the World Bank (WB)  said. 

“The ability to use, share, and access data across borders is vital for innovation and economic growth and to leverage technologies, such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence,” World Bank Senior Digital Development Specialist Naoto Kanehira said during a virtual policy discussion on Aug. 16.

“My advice would be to not only look inward but also outward and to acknowledge the role the Philippines has been playing as a regional leader for cross-border data flows. This is consequential not only domestically but (also has) regional and global implications,” he added.  

According to Arangkada Philippines, which organized the discussion, public policy has been generally supportive for low barriers to data flow in the private sector, while data localization requirements or measures dealing with the location of stored data and data processing have been limited to residency restrictions on sensitive and top-secret data under the Cloud First Policy.

Arangkada Philippines is a project of foreign chambers of commerce based in the Philippines and serves to promote the chambers’ policy recommendations to the government.

The Asia Internet Coalition called for a transparent and consultative approach between the government and industry to ensure that policy is consistent with international standards, and described the fostering of digital trust as critical in facilitating cross-border access, usage, and exchange of data.  

Meanwhile, IBM Philippines Government and Regulatory Affairs officer Princess Lou M. Ascalon said restrictions on cross-border data could hamper the operations of the IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry. 

She added that the restrictions could result in higher costs and pose risks for cybersecurity, disaster recovery, and redundancy.

“The IT-BPM industry is going to be more heavily reliant on data as it continues to grow. We hope to have the Philippine government and industry’s support to keep our policies open and conducive to the growth of this sector,” Ms. Ascalon said.

Arangkada Philippines hosted the discussions in collaboration with the Philippines-US Joint Cybersecurity Working Group, Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines, US-ASEAN Business Council, IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines, Asia Cloud Computing Association, and the Asia Internet Coalition. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave