Is the Digital Diplomacy Strategy Able to Protect Data Privacy Security in Business?

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As for the basic definition, diplomacy is an act to negotiate with other parties, countries, or people. Diplomacy per se mainly can be done by state actors or only stays between Government-to-Government relations (G2G). The aim of countries conducting diplomacy is to achieve their national and international interests, which can be seen as achieving a win-win-solution. This diplomatic process is usually carried out through representatives of countries, such as heads of state, heads of government, foreign ministers or ambassadors, as it was stipulated in the Article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. However, this kind of diplomacy, nowadays, is not a great strategy anymore. This is due to the massive development of technology and the internet which is disrupting many aspects of the international world, especially for law and international relations.

Currently, there is a development of diplomatic studies in international relations which can be called Digital Diplomacy. This development is shown by a shift in methods and mediums which can now be done digitally and just by your fingertips. This leads to an era where states are no longer the only actors who play a strategic position in the diplomatic process. Actors who play roles today no longer have to fulfill the elements found in a country according to the Montevideo Convention 1933, namely 1) having a number of people known as population, 2) having a number of territories consisting of land, water, sea and air , 3) have a sovereign government, and 4) receive recognition from other countries, both de facto and de jure.

Digital diplomacy is also supported by the advancement of globalization which facilitates interaction and effectiveness of diplomacy, not only between countries, but also between non-state actors. Several of these non-state actors are considered to be able to take an essential role in shaping and developing trade dynamics in the world due to the assistance of technology and increasingly widespread access to information. This easy access to information ultimately creates a new climate that should only be able to be implemented by the state. The assistance of technology and increasingly widespread access to information are considered to be able to increase activities to connect, send and receive various messages quickly and easily. This real thing can be seen from the international trade system that really relies on the speed of telecommunications and transportation at the same time through digital platforms.

The current international trade system adheres to the free-trade principle and is considered rich in strategies for accessing new markets through digital diplomacy. Currently, the majority of trading activities are dominated by e-commerce activities on various marketplace platforms, such as Amazon, Alibaba, Shopee, and even various cross-border transaction facilities. This makes all countries and companies compete to dominate the world’s economic and market share by utilizing digital technology. Social media is one of the derivative instruments that is usually utilized by each country and company in order to increase promotional exposure in the e-commerce sector. The internet through social media enlarges an individual’s space for freedom of expression and creativity, especially in the context of carrying out economic and trade activities. The emergence of the internet also provides space for several platforms to develop and become numerous, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and others.

However, as the technology grows massively fast and makes everything easily accessible, people start to find an ease to use the technology. The ease for people to buy and sell goods or services, also doing many transactions from the phone screen pops a big question in terms of security and guarantee of data privacy rights. This issue has become so massively widespread because it provides a driving factor for misuse of personal data by certain unidentified individuals. For instance, China experienced the largest case of data theft in history with 1 billion Chinese residents reaching 23 Terabytes. Furthermore, Twitter also confirms data from 5.4 million accounts was stolen in 2022. The hacker said that they had the data accounts for sale. It is also followed by the tragedy of  Uber whose breach exposes the data of 57 million drivers and users in 2022.  Thus, is it possible for phenomena like this to be overcome with digital diplomacy strategies, especially in terms of business or trade?

The answer is certainly possible. There are some reasons why digital diplomacy can be a special strategy for states and citizens to promote security for business, especially about data privacy security. First, as has been said, states are no longer the only actors who have the power to act and carry out diplomacy to other states or stakeholders. There are thousands of people who can mobilize to spread and increase awareness regarding personal data security issues. Social media has been designed in such a way as to be a tool or instrument for everyone to speak up on a strategic issue. Other than that, the Metapower concept illustrates and explains that great power and strength is not about having large, strong and well-trained military and armed forces, but how a country can maximize the best stories from every actor in its society .

Secondly, E-commerce and other Digital Start-Ups as diplomacy actors, these days, can have a special role in digital diplomacy. They can take part in providing information to users, both sellers and buyers, regarding data privacy security so that it is not easy to give their data to other parties when making transactions. E-commerce and Digital Start-Ups can also build a healthy business ecosystem, such as defining a good standard for how the user’s data is stored, moved, or accessed across digital platforms. They also can establish criteria or indicators to evaluate if there are several breaches of data, cybercrime, and also data privacy selling. Furthermore, E-commerce and other Digital Start-Ups might be able to provide anticipations for unintended consequences, such as increase the control, supervising, and management of data from professional big technology to the regular users.

Lastly, states must work hand-in-hand with multiple parties to strengthen their citizen’s data privacy security. It is important to note that the state is impossible to create a suitable ecosystem for privacy data in the digital world alone. One of the solutions that the state can do is by joining in a mutual cooperation with third parties or foreign digital vendors to manage seller and buyer data, as well as information on transactions carried out. Apart from that, several state actors have also started using the Twitter Diplomacy (Twiplomacy) strategy to voice the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of personal data through social media. This can be beneficial to uplifting the state reputations in spreading the awareness of privacy data security.

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