U.S./EU Trade Deal Should Keep Privacy and E-Commerce Off-the-Table Until Public Learns about impact of NSA Data Gathering and Role of Online Companies

The United State Trade Representative (USTR) holds hearings today for stakeholders to address issues related to the EU/US negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

CDD has been invited to testify. Here’s a summary:

EU and U.S. consumer groups, through the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, have already gone on record with USTR urging that data protection and data flow-related issues not be addressed in the TTIP negotiations. Both in the U.S. and the EU, policymakers are in the process of reviewing and potentially revising their respective privacy frameworks, making any trade agreement on the issue premature. However, the recent revelations of widespread data gathering by the U.S. and also European governments reported by the news media require a new approach for addressing digital products and e-commerce services, data flows, and data protection. We urge the USTR to call on the newly formed U.S. and EU review on privacy- and national security-related issues, which is now operating parallel to the start of the TTIP negotiations, to report its findings to the public. A thorough understanding of what data on citizens have been collected, and by whom (including by commercial entities), is required. Finally, digital products and services require a separate approach outside of the TTIP process. The civil liberties of individuals, including their right to privacy, should not be treated as just another commodity to be traded through negotiation.