Data regulation replaces tax rate as top investment factor, survey finds

Regulatory regime biggest driver for firms seeking to make data-related investments in EU

The William Fry survey found that organisations appeared confused about some aspects of the EU’s general data protection regulation. Photograph: iStock

The William Fry survey found that organisations appeared confused about some aspects of the EU’s general data protection regulation. Photograph: iStock

 

Data regulation has replaced tax as the most important factor for many businesses when deciding where to invest, a new survey claims.

The news comes as global tax-harmonisation efforts threaten the Republic’s 12.5 per cent levy on corporate profits, and after the Court of Justice of the European Union last week ruled that national data watchdogs will be able to pursue big tech firms even if they are not their lead regulators.

A global survey published by law firm William Fry indicates that investors’ priorities have changed since the solicitors completed a similar study in 2016.

The lawyers found that the regulatory regime is the most important driver for businesses seeking to make data-related investments in the EU.

Access to talent and the jurisdiction’s legal framework were the next most important, according to the survey of more than 300 executives around the world.

David Cullen, partner and head of William Fry’s technology department, noted that data regulation had replaced tax, which is now ranked number eight, at the top of investors’ priority lists.

“Talent has become even more important as a consideration whilst the importance of a jurisdiction’s legal framework remains at number three,” he said.

“There is also evidence of a significant and favourable shift in attitudes towards Ireland as a suitable location for data-related location or investment since our last report in 2016.”

More than nine out of 10 participants ranked the Republic as good or excellent when it came to data regulation, the study shows.

Stability

The State’s legal regime received good or excellent ratings from 97 per cent of executives, while 90 per cent rated its political and regulatory stability highly.

Two-thirds said it was likely that their organisations would make significant or further investments in the Republic in the next 18 months, while 31 per cent said it was possible.

Significantly, William Fry found that organisations appeared confused about some aspects of the EU’s general data protection regulation.

For example, 89 per cent agreed that the interpretation and enforcement of privacy regulations in the EU varied between member states.

The survey, Global Trends in Technology Data Report, states only 61 per cent viewed enforcement of the regulation in this way in 2016, and argues that the finding suggests a great demand for much greater EU-wide co-ordination.

In light of the threat of cyber attacks, almost three-quarters of organisations were increasing their spend on information security.