Flow Of Electronic Data

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1. Introduction

The current development on the flow of electronic data, especially those relating to personal data across nations is increasing daily. Most of the flows are related to business activities whereas services are provided to fulfill the needs of people.

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It also leads to the transformation of commerce, which becomes worldwide and increasingly international. The transfer of huge quantities of data, relating to customers and employees, are required and often occurred among entities that located in different countries. An example would be the system of outsourcing, a practice in which companies and governments hire an external service provider in another country to deliver a program or provide a service, such as managing database of human resources or customers. This can often result in improved efficiencies and levels of services. Further, the advancement of global networks, such as the internet, provides the possibilities to collect, process, and distribute personal data on an unprecedented scale. However, the trans-border flow of personal data is not only performed by companies or governments but also conducted by individuals in everyday life as well. When the data is used by companies or government, this can represent a high volume of data, such as in the form of the transfer of databases. There will be a quite different volume of data when it is provided by individuals when they disclose their personal data while participating in particular activities, such as browsing the internet or registering on various websites to obtain certain services. Additionally, there is a strong possibility for individuals, who are engaging in data transfer activities to lack of full awareness concerning what could be done to their personal data. In some instances, they do not realize that they have disclosed their personal data and it is subject to transmission and processing within countries not offering the same level of protection as their own country. For example, a student – physically located in the Netherlands – may complete an online game registration form, containing several spaces soliciting his/her identities, not knowing that the actual service provider is registered in India. Another example, a social worker residing within the United Kingdom might disclose his/her personal data on a web application for an internet banking service provided by a bank based in the United States. From the short description above, the trans-border flow of personal data exists in everyday life on a daily basis and it becomes a vital need of every stakeholder, whether governments or private sectors, including individuals. Nevertheless, while the flow has led to greater efficiencies and economic benefits, on the other hand this kind of flow has also raised concerns that some information could end up in the hands of people for whom it was not intended. Worse even is the situation when no one has realized the flow has taken place,

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