We thank UNCTAD Secretary General and Director Shamika Sirimanne for their introductory statements and insightful presentations.
Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on E-Commerce and Digital Economy is a unique forum within the UN system to deliberate on increasingly important topics related to digital economy and their implications for development. We value the work done so far which has rightly been acknowledged at the highest levels.
We believe that topic chosen for the third session of the IGE is very timely and important for our deliberations. We thank the Secretariat for their arrangements during the IGE and E-Commerce Week.
Data to digital economy is often compared to what oil is to traditional economy. However, data not only is the fuel of digital economy but also its key engine. If digital economy is profitable to any degree, then data must be its main source of growth. Panelists have also emphasized that role of data is increasing in the world economy at an exponential rate.
We often talk about “free flow of data” across international boundaries to keep businesses and industries running with efficiency and better productivity. However, concerns around cross-border data flows mostly remain unanswered – namely data ownership, data protection, and economic value of data. Use of cross border data for marketing purpose would need some quantification in monetary terms – whose benefits should be shared with people and the government whose data is being used. These challenges should be addressed through international cooperation and serious engagement by all stakeholders in a multilateral and inclusive settings.
However, real challenges for developing countries are how to develop the skills and technological capabilities to regulate, harness and utilize data for the benefit of our digital industry. In addition, our primary objectives must also be to overcome the digital divide, enhance connectivity and digital infrastructure, and lay the foundations for thriving digital economy for our development.
I would also like to draw your attention to few developments related to data protection in Pakistan. We have Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 which ensures adequate protection against an entire range of issues. A draft Personal Data Protection Bill is also in the legislative pipeline, which is aimed to regulate data usage, storage and disclosure. This draft has taken a number of elements from international best practices and similar instruments worldwide.
We will continue our active participation in the IGE and contribute in subsequent sessions.
I thank you.