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

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

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

Nearly 100% of respondents agree that data privacy is important to their
organisation, with a majority (54%) saying it will be much more so in three
years' time.
One reason for this is the perceived importance of
data privacy to good corporate governance, which is something that 88% of
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 of
the EU's General Data Protection Regulation may be in the offing. In a
barometer constructed for this study, companies were asked to rank their
preparedness to face various data-privacy regulations, such as that which might
restrict their ability to gather data directly from consumers, on a one-to-ten
scale. Overall, they are relatively well prepared, although they are less
willing to take different measures, such as changing business models to reduce
reliance on consumer data, in response to such regulations. Compared with
bullish Americans, executives in Europe are the least prepared to face
regulations and least likely to try new approaches in response to them, while
the 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 their
larger counterparts, even as some large firms, including tech heavyweights like
Apple and Google, are now beginning to call for regulators to create greater
clarity--a step that will hopefully lessen uncertainty going forward.

Michael Gold, editor of the report, says: "Businesses need to be
ware that playing fast and loose with consumer data can lead to major
repercussions down the road. Smart, well-co-ordinated
regulations can make
the business world more transparent and trustworthy amid a growing realisation
that 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 in
global business intelligence for executives. We uncover novel and
forward-looking perspectives with access to over 650 expert analysts and
editors across 200 countries worldwide. More information can be found on
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