Internet freedom is certainly a human rights imperative, but it is also an economic one. Last week, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren introduced legislation to combat trade barriers that threaten the global open Internet. Along with other Congressional representatives from California, Reps Eshoo, Honda and Matsui, Lofgren proposes to create a Task Force on the Global Internet that identifies, prioritizes and develops responses to policies and practices of any government or international governing body that deny fair market access to online goods and services or that threaten the technical operation, security and free flow of global Internet communications. The Global Free Internet Act of 2013, HR 889 provides that members of the Task Force would include heads of U.S. executive branch agencies, people nominated by Congressional leadership and other individuals to be crowd sourced from the Internet itself.
CCIA fully supports and endorses HR 889 and recommends that legislators all across the U.S. consider making it a priority to update our trade policy for the digital age. We not only export a vast volume and diversity of information services, our hard goods industry sectors depend increasingly on the Internet for global supply chain management and distribution channels.
In a recent statement on digital trade and global economics, submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) as part of its investigation, CCIA highlighted broad categories of trade barriers to a robust global Internet economy. These barriers include content filtering, blocking and censorship, market access preconditions such as local data hosting requirements and technology sharing and standards, “sending party pays” telecom charges by Internet access networks, and intermediary liability. These roadblocks to cross-border Internet data flows and global trade are every bit as real and pernicious as tariffs and other restrictions on hard goods. To maintain our economic competitiveness in the world of electronic commerce and digital trade, these novel impediments must be understood and squarely addressed.