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Emergent Digital Fragmentation

The Perils of Unilateralism

Policymakers are flying blind as they shape and nurture the digital domain which is a recipe for poor public decision-making. This joint report of the Digital Policy Alert and the Global Trade Alert fills the evidence gap. It adopts a comprehensive view of the policies affecting the digital domain and their cross-border repercussions. A whole-of-supply-chain approach is taken, drawing in policy decisions affecting upstream activities that support the digital economy, midstream activities, and downstream activities. Evidence on over 15,000 policy and regulatory developments is used to provide a comprehensive perspective including legal and regulatory developments in data governance or content moderation as well as information on the resort to trade and investment policy changes and subsidy policies.

Authors

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz

Date Published

28 Jun 2022

Policymakers are flying blind as they shape and nurture the digital domain which is a recipe for poor public decision-making. Policy incoherence at home coexists with international regulatory divergence. A fragmented internet and global digital economy denies users choice, diminishes the incentives for innovation, exacerbates trade tensions between governments, and increases the risk of numerous crises.

This joint report of the Digital Policy Alert and the Global Trade Alert fills the evidence gap. It adopts a comprehensive view of the policies affecting the digital domain and their cross-border repercussions. A whole-of-supply-chain approach is taken, drawing in policy decisions affecting upstream activities that support the digital economy (e.g. the mining of Rare Earths), midstream activities (e.g. developments in the critical semiconductor sector and in hardware and software), and downstream activities (e.g. platform businesses and digital delivery to customers).

Evidence on over 15,000 policy and regulatory developments is used to provide a comprehensive perspective including legal and regulatory developments in data governance or content moderation as well as information on the resort to trade and investment policy changes and subsidy policies.

More information

The joint report of the Digital Policy Alert and the Global Trade Alert focuses on fragmentation risks for the global digital economy. Co-author Johannes Fritz takes us through the main findings of the report as well as the challenges and opportunities he sees ahead:

Following the publication of our joint report, we had the opportunity to speak to Deborah Elms, Founder and Executive Director of the Asia Trade Centre. Listen to her thoughts on how fragmented digital rules affect smaller companies and what could be done to resolve emergent digital fragmentation: