Posts Under: Trade

Trade Agreements and Data Protection: Changing GATS Article XIV is Not the Way to Go

In a March 30, 2017 opinion piece, “Don’t trade away data protection,” two leading Members of the European Parliament, Viviane Reding and Jan-Phillip Albrecht, suggest “strengthening data protection safeguards in the General Exception (known as GATS XIV) and E-Commerce chapters, and removing necessity and consistency tests.”  The idea behind the proposal is to make absolutely certain that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and perhaps other parts of the EU privacy acquis could not be successfully challenged as inconsistent with an affirmative cross-border data flow obligation.  This is a topic SIIA will comment on again in the coming months, likely in a longer form Issue Brief.  This blog discusses the proposal to remove the necessity test.

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U.S.-China Trade: Yes it is Time to Try Something Different!

The meeting between President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping appears to have been a productive first get together between the leaders of the world’s most important bilateral economic and political relationship.   SIIA was pleased that President Trump raised concerns about, among other topics, China’s cyber policies on U.S. jobs and exports. 

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New Avenues to Govern Cross-Border Information Flows

The Elliott School of International Affairs hosted a very interesting conversation today on “New Avenues to Govern Cross-Border Information Flows.”  SIIA co-sponsored the event together the Internet Society of Greater Washington, D.C.  The Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP) presented the event.  Research Professor and Cross-Disciplinary Fellow Susan Aaronson moderated. I provided an industry perspective, and my talk is available here.  My written remarks focus on what we hope to achieve with respect to cross-border data flows in the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the WTO’s E-commerce Work Committee, the G20, G7, and the OECD.   However, as fellow panelist USTR Director for Digital Trade Sam DuPont concentrated on these fora, I emphasized in my spoken remarks four aspects of the cross-border data flow discussion.  First, key industry “asks” such as obligations to permit data flows, avoidance of serv ...

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SIIA Testifies on China's WTO Compliance

Today I testified before the United States Trade Representative on China’s compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.  See this document for my testimony and this United States Information Technology Office (USITO) submission to USTR.  In addition to the serious Intellectual Property Rights issues and other matters such as China’s so-called secure and controllable cybersecurity policies discussed during the testimony, today’s hearing underscored three additional big picture factors that that policymakers need to address as a new administration soon takes office. They can be summarized as follows.

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The Dangers of Deglobalization

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report entitled, Preventing Deglobalization: An Economic and Security Argument for Free Trade and Investment in ICT.  Given the Brexit vote earlier this year, the G-20 Summit earlier this week, and both major U.S. Presidential candidates’ vocal disapproval of trade deals, this report comes at an excellent time to counteract the public’s declining faith in globalization.   Concerns stemming from the results of a globalized ICT economy are not unjustified.  Some countries have adopted protectionist policies in an attempt to foster their own competitive economies in the global marketplace, and others have done it with national security in mind to ensure that globalized products do not contain malware inserted by a foreign country or company to conduct cyber theft or espionage.  These are both fair reasons for wanting to adjust policy to remedy these concerns.  However, as the Chamber’s report ...

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USTR Digital Trade Working Group Rapid Response Team Creation An Excellent Step

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced on July 18 the creation of a digital trade working group.  This will “serve as a ‘Rapid Response’ team to identify and combat barriers to digital trade around the globe, as well as promote sound policies to advance global digital trade.” This is from SIIA’s perspective an excellent initiative.  It is especially significant that the Working Group will, among other things, focus on the enforcement of existing trade law commitments pertinent to digital trade.  SIIA strongly supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).  In order to build support for this expansive trade agenda, vigorous enforcement of existing commitments is helpful. Clearly, USTR is looking at all means at its disposal to enhance the international position of the digital sector write large.  The emph ...

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Proposals Aim to Improve the Effectiveness of the FTC while Preserving Consumer Protection

In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) celebrated its 100-year anniversary, marking over a century as the lead consumer watchdog based on its broad authority established by Sec. 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” The Commission has demonstrated that after a century, their Section 5 authority is flexible enough to keep pace with rapid technological evolution.  For instance, as SIIA has highlighted in a recent policy paper, the FTC settlement with TRENDnet demonstrated that the FTC’s regulatory authority is indeed applicable to the Internet of Things (IoT).  The FTC v. Wyndham demonstrated that while data security is not explicitly identified in Section 5, the FTC’s unfairness authority includes the ability to protect consumer data from data breaches. While there is little question of the critical value of the FTC as the lead regulator and enforcer of consume ...

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DIGITALEUROPE, ECIPE, and SIIA Host Brussels Workshop On: The Importance of Complementary Policy for ICT in the EU

On December 4, 2015 DIGITALEUROPE hosted a workshop with the European Center for International Political (ECIPE) and SIIA on a recent ECIPE report written by Erik van der Marel.  Van der Marel explains the importance of “complementary policy” in unleashing greater productivity growth resulting from the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the EU.  By complementary policy, ECIPE means especially trade freedom, product market regulations, non-resident patent filings, general property rights protection, the strength of legal rights in general, R&D spending (particularly from abroad), and a number of other factors.  The special importance of trade openness (including data flows), investment openness (R&D investments and patent applications financed from abroad), and intellectual property rights (IPRs) is no surprise to SIIA.  Policymakers should review Van der Marel’s document carefully.

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SIIA Participation in July 2 Berlin Data Conference

I spoke on July 2 in Berlin at a conference organized by the German Standards Agency (DIN) on “Data protection in the EU and Germany – Impediment or basis of our digital future.”  SIIA was one of the sponsors of this important event.  DIN put together a terrific program with a good blend of proponents of European data protection approaches and perspectives from industries in the forefront of data-driven innovation.

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