Lawrence on Jurisdiction and Data Localization in Toronto

April 2, 2019

On 25 and 30 March 2019 Professor Jessica Lawrence presented on “Jurisdiction over Data: Border Discourses and Market Discourses in Transnational Law” at a Workshop on Digital Technologies in World Politics and at the 60th annual International Studies Association Conference in Toronto, Canada.

Professor Lawrence presented a paper discussing the mismatch between traditional understandings of territorial jurisdiction and the practices of ‘footloose’ global capital that operates above and across national borders. As states struggle with the implications of this new regulatory geography, some have attempted to ‘pin down’ data by requiring that it be stored or otherwise processed within their territory, allowing them to impose controls for reasons of national security, taxation, and personal privacy. These ‘data localization’ rules have, however, created barriers to trade in services, and champions of economic liberalization have begun to use recent trade agreements to limit or prohibit states from imposing such requirements. The discursive conflict over where data exists, she argued, reflects a broader set of ideological conflicts over the proper role of the state with respect to regulating the global marketplace.