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Asian firms are better prepared than European peers to comply with data-privacy regulations, according to new EIU study

The Economist Intelligence Unit

  • Firms in China and South-east Asiaare more confident than those in Europe to deal with potentially stricter rulesaround consumer-data gathering and use; the US leads both regions
  • Asian companies may be ahead ofthe ethics curve: companies in China and South-east Asia are more likely to tiedata-privacy practices to good corporate governance than those in the West
  • This comes amid the increasingimportance of data privacy to organisations today--it will be even more importantin future, according to EIU survey
  • Yet firms also generally believepeople are willing to trade data privacy for improved services

HONG KONG, CHINA - Media OutReach - 20 March 2019 - Thecollection and use of personal data for commercial purposes are on the rise, butconcerns over privacy and cyber-security breaches are causing concern amongconsumers, companies and regulators alike. The report, The transparent business barometer: Preparingfor the end of easy data, written by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)and sponsored by Ant Financial, assesses companies' level of preparedness to facea more privacy-conscious world. It is largely based on a survey of 250executives across China, the US, Western Europe and South-east Asia.

Nearly 100% of respondents agree that data privacy is important to theirorganisation, with a majority (54%) saying it will be much more so in threeyears' time. One reason for this is the perceived importance ofdata privacy to good corporate governance, which is something that 88% ofexecutives across the surveyed regions and almost all Chinese executives (98%)believe to be true.

Many firms are waking up to the fact that stricter laws in the mould ofthe EU's General Data Protection Regulation may be in the offing. In abarometer constructed for this study, companies were asked to rank theirpreparedness to face various data-privacy regulations, such as that which mightrestrict their ability to gather data directly from consumers, on a one-to-tenscale. Overall, they are relatively well prepared, although they are lesswilling to take different measures, such as changing business models to reducereliance on consumer data, in response to such regulations. Compared withbullish Americans, executives in Europe are the least prepared to faceregulations and least likely to try new approaches in response to them, whilethe sentiment in China and South-east Asia falls between those two extremes.


Transparent business barometer aggregate scores, by region

(Scores out of 10)




Western Europe

South-east Asia





















Smaller companies are also less ready to face regulations than theirlarger counterparts, even as some large firms, including tech heavyweights likeApple and Google, are now beginning to call for regulators to create greaterclarity--a step that will hopefully lessen uncertainty going forward.

Michael Gold, editor of the report, says: "Businesses need to beaware that playing fast and loose with consumer data can lead to majorrepercussions down the road. Smart, well-co-ordinated regulations can makethe business world more transparent and trustworthy amid a growing realisationthat data is truly the 'new oil' in today's economy."

Full report can be downloaded here.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The EIU is the thought leadership,research and analysis division of The Economist Group and the world leader inglobal business intelligence for executives. We uncover novel andforward-looking perspectives with access to over 650 expert analysts andeditors across 200 countries worldwide. More information can be found on us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

About Ant Financial

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