Posts Under: International Policy

"Hidden Figures:" A Great Story on Jobs as well as Civil Rights

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a screening of 21st Century Fox’s “Hidden Figures.”  This is a great movie about the critical contributions made by three African-American women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson -  to put John Glenn into space in the early 1960s.  The movie depicts the struggles these women faced to be treated equally as the consummate professionals they were at a time when the state of Virginia still enforced segregation laws.  It is a wonderful and uplifting story about a mostly unexplored but important dimension of American history.  Go see it! There is an interesting sub-plot to the movie, which has to do with the usually somewhat dry – at least on the big screen -  topic of automation and jobs.  Johnson, Vaughn and Jackson were hired by NASA to be human “computers.”  Part of Johnson’s job was to calculate John Glenn’s exact landing zone in ...

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Digital Attaché Program Doubling is Excellent News

Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker announced a doubling of the Digital Attaché program.  The program already covers Brazil, China, the European Union, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Japan.  The expansion will include South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, and France.  This is a group of well-chosen countries.  South Korea is the world’s 14th largest economy.  The world’s first free trade agreement to include provisions on data flows is the U.S.-South Korea Agreement (KORUS) – see Article 15.8.  South Korea is also a crucial diplomatic partner for the United States, particularly in standing up for non-discriminatory trading practices throughout Asia and beyond. Indonesia is of course huge.  It is also a very challenging market for U.S. companies in part because of data localization requirements there.  These requirements are so economically significant that the Europ ...

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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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Into the Clouds Release Takeaways

Readers of this blog will know that the SIIA and Thomson Reuters-supported Atlantic Council study: Into the Clouds: European SMEs and the Digital Age” was released on October 10 at Aspen Berlin/Germany on October 10.  We followed up in Brussels on October 12 with a lively DIGITALEUROPE workshop and a well-attended Transatlantic Policy Network dinner.  In addition, I met with German and European Commission officials this week.  A few takeaways from these events and meetings follow.  Cloud adoption rates are variable in Europe and surprisingly low in Germany.  Low adoption in Germany derives in part from continuing surveillance concerns but is perhaps equally caused by a preference for in-house solutions, even by SMEs.  Localization of data in-country remains a preference of many German companies and cloud providers increasingly provide that option to their customers who are evidently willing to pay a premium for that service.   The Commissi ...

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What It Takes to Go Into the Clouds

Yesterday on October 10, 2016 in Berlin, the Aspen Institute/Germany launched “Into the Clouds: European SMEs and the Digital Age.”  SIIA and Thomson Reuters supported the report, which was written by the Atlantic Council’s Tyson Barker.  In connection with the launch, Aspen hosted a lively lunch discussion bringing together academics, politicians, and industry representatives. The report finds lower than optimal cloud adoption rates in a number of European countries, most notably in Germany.  It recommends six policies in order to increase cloud adoption, especially by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

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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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IGF USA Countering Violent Extremism Discussion

Last week on July 14, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) USA hosted an interesting and, unfortunately, once again, timely panel discussion entitled: “Content and Conduct: Countering Violent Extremism and Promoting Human Rights Online.”  Courtney Radsch from the Committee to Protect Journalists ably moderated and asked pertinent questions throughout the conversation.  Yolanda Rondon from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Matt Mitchell from Black Lives Matter provided a civil rights perspective.  J.D. Maddox from the State Department described what the U.S. government is doing to combat online violent extremism abroad.  I was on the panel to give SIIA’s view, which is informed by our diverse membership, which includes content and social media companies. Rondon and Mitchell eloquently described the potential dangers and dilemmas faced by policymakers in determining how ...

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Hillary’s International Tech Proposals

On June 28, 2016, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton released her “Initiative on Technology & Innovation.”  SIIA does not endorse any particular presidential candidate, but we think nonetheless it is worthwhile commenting on the proposals.  Should presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump present technology policy proposals, we will comment on those too.    

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