Tech Groups Flag Data Flows, Transfers in Coming Trade Talks

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Two prominent tech-sector trade groups said Tuesday that planned trade agreement talks between the U.S. and the European Union, United Kingdom, and Japan should prioritize easing cross-border data flows and barring requirements to compel the transfer of technology, source code, and encryption keys.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said this week he informed Congress that the U.S. will undertake negotiations on separate trade agreements with Japan, the EU, and the UK, and will publish objectives for the negotiations at least 30 day before those efforts begin.

Software trade group BSA | The Software Alliance said “these negotiations present opportunities to include digital trade rules and continue working toward an international consensus on data,” and urged the U.S. to “build off the digital trade provisions in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement” and items in BSA’s own digital trade agenda including making data collection and use more transparent, giving consumers more control over personal data, and ensuring strong enforcement for data protection rules.

Last month, President Trump appointed Victoria Espinel, BSA’s chief executive officer, to a four-year term on the White House’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

“Technology plays an increasingly central role in the global economy, and it is important that trade agreements enhance digital trade and allow data to flow freely across borders,” said the Information Technology Industry Council in a separate statement.

“These agreements should enable cross-border data flows; prohibit tariffs, taxes, and other barriers on data flows, hardware, and digital services; avoid requirements to localize data, production, or infrastructure; and bar the forced transfer of technology, source code, or encryption keys,” the group said.

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