Research content of this book

This project starts from the need for cross-border data flow and expands its scope from “regional” to “regional-global” cross-border data flows. The dynamic evolutionary process is closely examined and rigorous logical reasoning is applied in the analysis, aggregating the policies that apply to the cross-border data flow of 116 countries/regions. Netlogo is used to create a platform to derive simulated data for the empirical analysis of the risks that complex systems of cross-border data flow face during their evolutionary orbits, thus demonstrating the conditions and particularities of these mechanisms. This allows empirically founded theorizing about how they influence the paths of the global-governance evolutionary processes of cross-border data flow, and analyzing, evaluating and suggesting how the existing governance models can be optimized.

On this basis, this project pays more attention to the application of the theoretical innovations in the practice of cross-border data flow governance in my country mentioned above. China is currently in the period of rapid development of digital trade, and is also suffering from the huge data sovereignty risks brought by cross-border data flow. How to create an effective cross-border data flow regulatory system that adapts to China’s digital trade market development level and concurrently adapts to cross-border data flow risks has become a top priority for (not only Chinese) legislators and governments. This project is focused on sorting out and evaluating the evolutionary process of my country’s cross-border data flow governance system. It also points out the direction that the reforms of my country’s data flow governance need to consider, which has important policy reference value.

This project is generally based on the idea of reality analysis–-case study–-model calibration–-summing up”.The main contents include the following five aspects.

(1) Elements and systems for cross-border data flow supervision in a digital trading environment. The core of digital trade lies in digital resources. The cross-border flow of data not only does not bring about the new interactive model in the modern global information society, but also brings global risks. This section elaborates the definition of cross-border data flow, the regulatory elements and the meaning of the regulatory system from a conceptual perspective; followed by introducing the building blocks of cross-border data flow regulation and how they relate to its goal, principles and tools; with the analysis of the theoretical regulatory mechanisms of cross-border data flow as its closure.

(2) Second, it introduces the elements of cross-border data flow governance in terms of objectives, principles, and means of cross-border data flow supervision. Starting with the current global regulatory status, the cross-border data flow regulatory system is analyzed. The legal and policy frameworks of cross-border data flow regulation in the US, EU and Russia are scrutinized and summarized and the negative feedback of these three models to digital trade are exposed. The United States represents the principle of free flow, and the exception is the prohibition of the flow of sensitive data outside the country; the EU representative considers certain conditions for the cross-border flow of data; data can be transferred to places outside the EU, but only if the third country that receives personal data provides sufficient protection. The investigation required is conducted by the European Commission. At present, only a few countries have been affirmed by the EU; Russia stands for data localization mode, including localized storage or localized processing.

(3) Preparation for the development of global cross-border data flow governance models. This section comprehensively and in real time tracks and scrutinizes a series of influential policies and regulations issued by international organizations and explores the construction and development of a global governance system for cross-border data flows since the 1980s.
It is established that international organizations represented by the OECD have successively issued a series of declarations, statements, reports and guidelines. Although these rules have no formal legal effect, they have been adjusted and adapted in the theory and practice of international law in the field of cross-border data flow. Evaluation of these micro- and macro processes constitute various methods and structures of soft law governance, that are guiding countries to continuously move towards a unified global cross-border data flow governance system.

(4) Introduce complex adaptive systems to study the evolution of cross-border data flow regulation systems and treat cross-border data flow regulation systems as complex adaptive systems. Explore some essential concepts of cross-border data flow regulation systems to transcend disagreements between disciplines, construct a new research framework to comprehensively understand and study the general laws of the dynamics, mechanisms and paths of cross-border data flow regulation system evolution. With the help of the Netlogo simulation model, the evolutionary power, mechanism and path of cross-border data flow are simulated and verified.

(5) Reflection and enlightenment of China’s cross-border data flow supervision model. In the digital trading environment, with the changes and amendments to the global regulatory system, my country’s laws and policies have also reflected this issue. In fact, China’s cross-border data flow regulatory system is not yet perfect, and there are considerable deficiencies in regulatory concepts, regulatory tools, and regulatory capabilities. Especially with changes in the external environment and the legal operating environment, it also shows a huge potential data sovereignty risk. This achievement combines the development status of China’s cross-border data flow regulation system, combined with the experience of simulation technology verification, and analyzes and discusses how to find a more reasonable and effective legal control system through adjustment and optimization based on the existing legal control system.