Why Trade Agreements are Not Setting Information Free: The Lost History and Reinvigorated Debate Over Cross-Border Data Flows, Human Rights and National Security

Posted: 20 Apr 2015

See all articles by Susan Ariel Aaronson

Susan Ariel Aaronson

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 2015

Abstract

Herein, we examine how the United States and the European Union (the EU) use trade agreements to advance the free flow of information and to promote digital rights online. In the 1980s and 1990s, after US policymakers tried to include language governing the free flow of information in trade agreements, other nations feared a threat to their sovereignty and their ability to restrict cross-border data flows in the interest of privacy or national security.

In the 21st century, again many states have not responded positively to US and EU efforts to facilitate the free flow of information. They worry that the US dominates both the Internet economy and Internet governance in ways that benefit its interests. After the Snowden allegations, many states adopted strategies that restricted rather than enhanced the free flow of information. Without deliberate intent, efforts to set information free through trade liberalization may be making the Internet less free.

Finally, the two trade giants are not fully in agreement on Internet freedom, but neither has linked policies to promote the free flow of information with policies to advance digital rights. Moreover, they do not agree as to when restrictions on information are necessary and when they are protectionist.

Keywords: trade, FTAs, US, EU, internet, information flows, cross-border data flows

JEL Classification: F10, F23, P 16, 038

Suggested Citation

Aaronson, Susan, Why Trade Agreements are Not Setting Information Free: The Lost History and Reinvigorated Debate Over Cross-Border Data Flows, Human Rights and National Security (April 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2595809

Susan Aaronson (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs ( email )

1957 E Street
Washington, DC 20052
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.gwu.edu/~elliott/faculty/aaronson.cfm

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
377
PlumX Metrics