Government-Mandated Front Doors?: A Global Assessment of Legalized Government Access to Data

Conference:  BlackHat USA 2021



The presentation discusses the regulatory landscape of data access and privacy laws across the globe and the need for community input to increase data protection.
  • Data is becoming increasingly valuable and handing over data can become a bargaining chip in various policy areas.
  • Democracies are not immune to trends in data access and privacy laws.
  • The presentation outlines a research design methodology and rankings to assess the regulatory landscape of data access and privacy laws.
  • The regulatory landscape is shifting rapidly and there is a lot of variation across the globe.
  • The community has a strong role to play in increasing data protection.
  • The presenter will continue tracking the balance and updating the model as changes occur.
The presenter found that while the regulatory landscape was shifting fast, it was moving even faster than they could have imagined. There is a lot of variation across the globe, with countries teetering between authoritarianism and democracy pursuing more surveillance and data access leaning policies. The presenter emphasizes the need to stay on top of these changes and to continue tracking the balance to see which way it tips.


Who needs a backdoor when front door access is required? From Tesla to the U.S. tech giants, there has been a growing focus on whether private sector companies are obliged to turn over data to a foreign government in exchange for market access. This can take the form of source code reviews to unfettered access upon request and increasingly may pose a risk to intellectual property and personal data as digital authoritarian frameworks proliferate. This comes at a time when significant supply chain disruptions have prompted many in the private sector to reassess their global footprint, with cybersecurity a top priority and motivator when exploring greener pastures elsewhere. Integrating government data access policies must become core to these considerations as corporations reshore and transform their global footprint.But how do these policies compare from one country to the next? Has the GDPR inspired more progeny or is the Chinese model spreading faster as many contend? To address these questions, this presentation will introduce a new global index of countries based on government-mandated data access requirements. We will discuss the data and factors driving the index, as well as elicit community recommendations for improving the model. With such significant global transformations underway, government-mandated data access warrants greater attention when exploring the full range of global cyber risks.