Data free flow with trust

What are cross-border data flows and why do they matter?

Digital technologies create, capture, copy and consume vast amounts of data, and a lot of these data travel across borders. In fact, any transmission of data between two firms or individuals in different jurisdictions constitutes a cross-border data flow. This movement of data across borders is essential to the global economy across most sectors. For instance:

  • In manufacturing, cross-border data flows are pivotal for supply chain optimisation, enabling companies to track and manage inventory levels, production schedules and delivery timelines across different countries.
  • Data flows are also integral to global health monitoring and research. They facilitate the sharing of patient data and research findings to improve disease tracking, treatment methods and vaccine development across borders.
  • Cross-border data flows are omnipresent in the day-to-day lives of individuals: they allow us to watch videos on our mobile phones, book flights and hotels online, and buy goods and services from around the world. 

What is data free flow with trust?


While enabling many opportunities, the flows of data across borders — and especially personal data — also pose policy challenges concerning privacy protection, national security, intellectual property rights protection, trade, competition, and industrial policy. Without decisive policy action to allay these concerns, a lack of trust in the data flows that underpin today’s economy may hinder productivity, innovation and economic growth.

Data free flow with trust (DFFT) is a concept coined in 2019 to embody the international policy drive to promote the use of data for economic and social prosperity, all while effectively managing the associated concerns and challenges. The concept of DFFT is growingly recognised internationally, and is consistently referenced in global policy discussions.

After Japan introduced the concept at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2019, G7 and G20 leaders repeatedly echoed the importance of advancing DFFT, and in 2023, G7 Leaders endorsed the G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Vision for Operationalising DFFT and its Priorities.

Through its work on data governance and privacy, the OECD has long served as a knowledge partner for its members, the G7 and G20 in advancing the DFFT policy agenda. Against this background, the OECD hosts a DFFT experts community to further leverage evidence-based and multi-stakeholder input into its policy discussions. This enables and bolsters more informed dialogue and helps to provide concrete responses to identified policy challenges.

About the DFFT experts community

In line with its priority to promote data free flow with trust for a prosperous economy, the OECD has formed an expert community to support the process of building trust surrounding data and their use across borders.

This new community gathers experts from governments, academia, civil society, business, and international organisations to provide project-based technical perspectives and evidence to the policy-oriented work of the Digital Policy Committee (DPC) of the OECD and its Working Party on Data Governance and Privacy (WPDGP).

The experts are nominated either by OECD member countries or the OECD Secretariat. Different working groups of the community will be created based on expertise for specific projects.

The DFFT experts community is expected to provide inputs on, but not limited to:

  • Specific projects identified and specific questions raised by the DPC and WPDGP that require resources to associate practice-focused, multi-stakeholder projects with current OECD work items, in line with expressed OECD priorities.
  • Horizontal data-related issues across policy areas or sectors, such as finance and health.
  • Identifying possible trends and new issues related to data policies.

Ongoing projects

OECD work on data governance and privacy

The OECD has facilitated global co-operation on the different dimensions of data and data flows for over 40 years, including in sensitive areas like health, finance, and national security. It provides a unique forum for standard setting and international dialogue as well as policy research and analysis.

Today, the OECD covers data topics as diverse as open finance, cross-border payments, regulatory cooperation, health data governance, and the use of the most advanced privacy-enhancing technologies to support data sharing in artificial intelligence.

The increased recognition of data as a strategic asset and input for economic and social activity presents an opportunity for OECD to expand its work programme on topics related to data flows and affirm global leadership in this area.


Please contact us directly by e-mail if you have any questions regarding this project at [email protected]