Cross-Border Data Policy Index


The ability to responsibly transfer data around the globe supports cross-border economic opportunity, cross-border technological and scientific progress, and cross-border digital transformation and inclusion, among other public policy objectives. To assess where policies have helped create an enabling environment for cross-border data and its associated benefits, the Global Data Alliance has developed the Cross-Border Data Policy Index.

The Cross-Border Data Policy Index offers a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the relative openness or restrictiveness of cross-border data policies across nearly 100 economies. Global economies are classified into four levels. At Level 1 are economies that impose relatively fewer limits on the cross-border access to knowledge, information, digital tools, and economic opportunity for their citizens and legal persons. Economies’ restrictiveness scores increase as they are found to impose greater limits on cross-border data, thereby eroding opportunities for digital transformation while also impeding other policy objectives relating to health, safety, security, and the environment.

Cross-Border Data Policies Around the World

GDA: Index Map Legend

Level 1: Relatively Open Digital Policies

Open to Cross-Border Digital Economic Opportunity and Digital Transformation

The 45 Level 1 economies include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK and the US, among others. Many Level 1 economies have maintained open cross-border digital policy environments and have adopted optimal policies regarding future digital transformation and digital inclusion.

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burkina Faso
  • Canada
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Congo
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kenya
  • Lichtenstein
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritania
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Norway
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • Uruguay
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Level 2: Restrictive

Decreasing Cross-Border Digital Openness Impedes the Potential of Cross-Border Data to Support Economic and Other Policy Objectives

The 33 Level 2 economies are Bangladesh, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates, along with the 27 Member States of the European Union. Beneficially, many of these economies have assumed a forward-leaning policy stance on digital policy. Regrettably, this policy stance has often also included an embrace of unnecessary cross-border digital restrictions.

  • Bangladesh
  • European Union member (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden)
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • United Arab Emirates

Level 3: Highly Restrictive

Numerous and Diverse Restrictions Substantially Impede Cross-Border Digital Transformation, Sustainable Economic Development, and Other Policy Priorities Across Multiple Sectors

The six Level 3 economies are India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Vietnam. Economies in this group have adopted cross-border data barriers characteristic of Level 2 economies, but they have done so with greater frequency and intensity.

  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Turkey
  • Vietnam

Level 4: Extremely Restrictive

Comprehensive and Systemic Cross-Border Data Restrictions Across the Economy and Society

The two Level 4 economies are China and Russia. Cross-border data barriers in Level 4 economies are more numerous and more onerous than anywhere else. These barriers typically cover more sectors and more data types, may include ad hoc pre-transfer governmental approval requirements, and depend upon often unfettered governmental discretion to enforce vague legal standards under the threat of onerous penalties. These barriers are sometimes explicitly predicated on national security and authoritarian maintenance over “social order.” They frequently contain few, if any, due process safeguards against intrusive governmental decisions on data access or data transfer. In these contexts, it can be difficult for enterprises to predict their own legal exposure or have confidence that future data transfers of business-related information will be permitted.

  • China
  • Russia

Cross-Border Data Policy Benefits and Costs

Benefits of Cross-Border Data

145% increase

in exports with every 0.1 point reduction in digital restrictions

82% reduction

in MSME export cost

Up to 30% reduction

in developing country trade costs

Costs of Cross-Border Data Restrictions

GDP losses

of 0.7%–1.7%

Cross-Border Data Supports Diverse Governmental Policy Objectives



including through an enhanced ability to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats via real-time cross-border data visibility and risk management.


Digital Transformation

of governmental and non-governmental services (e.g., education, health, and safety) through the adaption of digital technologies across the economy.

economic development

Economic Development

including through greater digital connectivity, including for the benefit of MSMEs and underrepresented segments of the population.



by enabling educators and learners to maintain access to research, scholarship, textbooks, and other learning tools from across the world.

environmental sustainability

Environmental Sustainability

including through improved cross-border carbon emissions tracking and predictive climate modeling based on multi-regional data.

financial inclusion

Financial Inclusion

as well as fraud prevention, anti-money laundering, anti-corruption, and other financial transparency objectives.



including through international R&D, cross-border healthcare regulatory collaboration, and global medical humanitarian assistance and healthcare delivery.

human rights

Human Rights

by permitting all citizens cross-border access to information without undue interference from authoritarian regimes.



including by protecting personal data across digital networks, and by promoting interoperability among personal data protection frameworks in different jurisdictions.

science and technology

Science and Technology

including through cross-border access to knowledge and research needed to meet global challenges, and to develop IP.

trustworthy AI

Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

including through cross-border data analytics—responsibly deployed to mitigate the potential for bias in high-risk applications—to help address shared global challenges.

G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué (2023)

We reaffirm that cross-border data flows, information, ideas and knowledge generate higher productivity, greater innovation, and improved sustainable development, while raising other challenges.

We welcome the OECD Declaration on Trusted Government Access to Personal an instrument to increase trust in cross-border data flows among countries committed to democratic values and the rule of law.

We emphasize our opposition to internet fragmentation and the use of digital technologies to infringe on human rights.

We should counter unjustified obstacles to the free flow of data, lacking transparency, and arbitrarily operated.

We seek to increase trust across our digital ecosystem and to counter the influence of authoritarian approaches.


The Cross-Border Data Policy Index assesses, across several text-based metrics, each economy’s national laws, regulations, and other measures that either restrict data transfers or mandate data localization. The Index is built on legal analyses of measures relating to artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, privacy, law enforcement access, and international trade (among other topics). Read more >>

Contact Information


Joseph Whitlock
Executive Director


Tham Shen Hong
Manager, Policy


Irma Gudziunaite
Director, Policy