Digital Economy


Technological progress continues to advance ICTs and the Internet, which is fundamental for economic growth. ICC shares business insight and experience to policymakers on new ICTs and demonstrate the impact of regulations on their use.

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What is the role of ICTs and digital technologies in global transformation? 

From micro-enterprises to multinational conglomerates, businesses in every sector and every region of the world are increasingly dependent on information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digital technologies (DTs) and a secure, stable and trusted Internet to carry out their daily operations. 

The digital economy is now, more than ever, transforming the way we connect, communicate, work and do business. The digitalisation of traditional businesses and economies has become an essential instrument of change and adaptation to the requirements of the 21st century global economy and society. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Digital Technologies (DTs), when properly harnessed, are a formidable engine of innovation, competitiveness and sustainable economic growth, as well as instruments of social and economic empowerment for all.  

How does ICC engage in shaping policy around ICTs and digital transformation? 

Given its prominent role in these areas, the private sector has a core responsibility to work closely with policymakers to set the digital economy on a path that serves the best interests of individuals and communities worldwide. On behalf of users, providers, operators of ICTs and DTs, the International Chamber of Commerce addresses the full spectrum of digital policy issues that impact our collective ability to conduct business activities but also our ability to make headway towards goals of sustainable growth and  development.  

The development of ICTs and DTs depends on a broader enabling environment founded on trust, free trade, open markets, the rule of law, public and private sector investment and technology neutrality. It is therefore vital that policy and regulatory frameworks are forward looking and sufficiently flexible to adjust to rapidly evolving markets, emerging technologies and new business models. Our approach to advancing the global development of the digital economy combines policy and regulatory advocacy, along with the promotion of best practices aimed at business and governments alike. 

Connectivity and access 

Despite tremendous efforts in recent years to bring the opportunities of digital transformation to businesses and communities across the world, it is estimated that almost half of the world’s population still remains offline and significant digital divides continue to hinder social and economic growth in both developed and developing economies.  

To address the systemic challenges in face of universal connectivity, policymakers and the private sector must, once again, commit to long-term and holistic strategies that boost investment in digital infrastructure, and the services and applications that drive it. In accordance with ICC’s mission to support an open, unfragmented, fair and free Internet for all, we work with stakeholders worldwide to co-create enabling environments for such investments. 

Members of our Connectivity and Access workstream contribute to ongoing policy discussions in two ways: building capacity for business and formulating concrete policy recommendations to empower all stakeholders to achieve universal meaningful connectivity. The core of their current work is exploring how innovative business models, technologies and regulatory frameworks can help address barriers to connectivity and bring the benefits of digitalisation to both developed and developing economies.  


As businesses and economies increasingly depend on global connectivity and cross-border data flows, we must collectively take action to build a more secure online environment. Cyberthreats have been shown to undermine the economic and social benefits of digitalisation, as consumers and businesses express growing concern over cybersecurity. 

To help navigate an increasingly complex online environment, ICC works with governments and businesses worldwide to build a common understanding of what constitutes a robust cybersecurity policy and to share best practices that foster a more secure Internet for businesses and users. 

With a history of more than 100 years developing globally recognised applicable rules by convening experts and practitioners, we believe it is essential for businesses and governments to have a shared understanding of how to conceptualise cybersecurity risks, targets, impacts, and responses, including national and international laws and norms. While governments and business have different roles in addressing cybersecurity, they are mutually reinforcing. 

This is  why ICC’s Working Group on Cybersecurity developed an ICC Policy Primer on Cybersecurity, highlighting key issues and challenges that business and society face in strengthening Internet security and responding to the large and growing range of cybersecurity threats. Key issues addressed in this paper include conceptualising cyber threats, actors and responses, developing and implementing shared norms, enhancing capacity building, as well as cybersecurity applications and standards. To follow up and expand on the concepts and issues raised in the primer, members of this workstream are working on a series of issue briefs: 

  • Issue Brief 1: Call for Government Action on Cybersecurity 
  • Issue Brief 2: Implementation of international norms and rules and global cooperation to curb cybercrime 
  • Issue Brief 3: Protecting Critical Infrastructure 
  • Issue Brief 4: Capacity building 

Data governance

The benefits of trade depend on the trusted and uninterrupted flow of data between countries. Virtually no economic activity today can happen in national silos. Instead, it depends on close interaction with commercial partners and customers across the globe. But trust in international data flows is being eroded because of concerns over security and data protection, consumers’ rights, universal human rights and freedoms, including privacy rights, and the lack of clarity, transparency, and consistency between national approaches. The erosion of trust leads to uncertainty that may discourage an individual, business, and even government to participate in the global economy, and can negatively impact social and economic growth. 

Data, the business models it drives and the cross-border flows that support them are at the heart of the global digital economy, as companies rely on such flows to conduct their day-to-day business with customers and partners, innovate in their products and operations, increase their productivity and compete more effectively in sectors as diverse as agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing or banking. These data flows underpin every aspect of today’s business – cloud services, customer relationship management, human resource management, remote work, workplace collaboration, and supply chain management. They also enable distance learning, telemedicine, the fight against cybercrime and child abuse online, fraud monitoring and prevention, investigation of counterfeit products, and a broad range of other activities. 

Trust in the processing and transfer of data are integral to these exchanges, which are vital to a resilient and sustainable economic growth and recovery. ICC works with businesses and policymakers to co-create trustworthy environments that enhance the availability and interoperability of data between relevant stakeholders and across borders to uncover new sources of innovation and growth, while balancing the broad use of data with high privacy, security and ethical standards.  

Acting as an inclusive and diverse forum for policy dialogue and action and drawing on our members’ expertise, ICC collectively builds capacity, develops policy positions and designs advocacy strategies to further a holistic and global data governance policy framework that fosters responsible and inclusive data-driven growth and innovation.  

Through its work on data governance, the group provides a platform for cooperation for businesses of all sizes and sectors to advocate for interoperable policy frameworks that would facilitate cross-border data flows, enabling data to be exchanged and used in a trusted manner, thereby aiming for higher privacy standards.