Don’t forget big data in TTIP and TISA

It is crystal clear what corporations want in the Transatlantic trade greement (TTIP) and the other treaties being negotiated: a commitment to allow cross border data flows and data-processing across all services sectors, including financial services, without any limitations. They consider requirements to use local network infrastructure or local servers as discriminatory, with potentially adverse effects on trade. According to Michael Froman, the American chief negotiator, this is high on the agenda in the trade negotiations.

It is common to talk about big data as the raw material of the new digital economy of the 21st century, and as an important factor in every industry and business function.

In agriculture, for example, the farmers transfer large amounts of business and production information regarding their planting, production and harvesting practices to their service providers. All this data can be connected in business models, where the sale of seeds, plant protection, fertilizer, sensor capacity, analytical capacity and high-tech equipment may be combined with marketing of the crop and with banking, insurance and pension services. This can be used to make the farmer totally dependent and thereby further strengthen monopolistic features among the service providers.

Big data floods all aspects of life. As the first big insurance company in Europe, the Italian based Generali Group is now aiming at digital control of its customers. Via an app, they are expected to send data regarding their health, fitness, lifestyle etc. to Generali, and may be awarded a cheaper premium, if they are in good shape. Predictably, some algorithm will determine that we need to pay higher health insurance premiums, if we refuse to have our bodies hooked up to cables, or if we don’t exercise daily.

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