05:22 GMT +324 October 2019
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    World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarter in Geneva (Switzerland)

    WTO Should Referee Disputes Over Data Flows Across National Borders

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    The World Trade Organization offers a readily available mechanism to resolve disputes between the US and other nations over attempts to police the Internet across international borders, according to a joint report by Chatham House and Global Commission on Internet Governance.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Differences over data transfer rules figured prominently in a deal reached on Tuesday between the United States and European Union, dubbed the EU-US Privacy Shield.

    The agreement would replace a 2000 pact called Safe Harbor. The European Court of Justice scuttled Safe Harbor in October 2015, ruling that it did not protect Europeans’ personal information from countries such as the United States and its intelligence agencies that mine the Internet for terrorist plots.

    "WTO member states should ask the WTO Secretariat to examine whether domestic policies that restrict information (short of exceptions for national security and public morals) constitute barriers to cross-border information flows that could be challenged in a trade dispute," the report, released on Wednesday, stated.

    The 40-page report focuses on the US insistence on rules for free-flow of information and other countries’ ambivalence toward such rules.

    "America remains the most vociferous booster of trade agreements as a tool to advance the benefits of the Internet internationally."

    In contrast, the report explains that some nations, such as Brazil and India, argue for greater government control to foster innovation and economic growth, while other countries, including China, want greater international control over the Internet.


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