Global action needed to align digitalization, development: UNCTAD official

Source: Xinhua| 2018-04-14 03:25:56|Editor: yan
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GENEVA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- With Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg under U.S. Congress pressure and greater regulation on data privacy looking likely, "there is no time to waste" in ensuring the technological revolution nurtures more inclusive development, a senior UN development official said Friday.

Revelations on how social media have spotlighted the wide effects of the fast-emerging, data-driven digital economy show the need to close divides, said Shamika N. Sirimanne, Technology and Logistics director at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

She said in a statement before UN E-Commerce Week starting here on Monday that, "Data privacy sits at the core of the debate."

On the opening day of the conference, one session will be titled "Development Dimensions of the Sharing Economy - Learnings from China."

Nations differ greatly in the approach taken to protect the users of internet services, said Sirimanne, noting that in the European Union, a new General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect on May 25.

"Data privacy will become a growing concern also in developing countries, where the use of digital platforms is expanding fast," she noted.

However, UNCTAD has documented that almost 60 developing countries currently do not have any data protection legislation in place.

"Improving this situation is urgently needed, not only to protect the 418 million Facebook users in these countries but also to ensure that enterprises...are able to trade effectively with partners, such as the European Union, which are imposing stringent requirements in this area."

The UNCTAD official said that the lack of data protection is only one example of how many nations are ill-prepared for the digital economy.

"To be able to engage in and benefit from electronic commerce...urgent action is similarly needed in areas such as digital infrastructure, payment solutions, trade logistics, skills development, consumer protection and financing of digital entrepreneurship," asserted Sirimanne who will speak during e-commerce week.

UNCTAD's eTrade for All initiative gathers 29 international and regional organizations, seeking to support developing countries wishing to benefit from more effective and transparent e-commerce.

"Many countries need help, and they need it now -- not in five or ten years.... This time, we should make every effort to ensure that the digital revolution brings about inclusive development rather than more inequality," said Sirimanne.