PublishedApril 16, 2015

Congress Introduces Fast-Track Trade Promotion Authority Legislation

Washington — The House and Senate have introduced bipartisan legislation to give the President “fast-track” trade promotion authority (TPA). The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 purports to emphasize the importance of the growing digital economy and does include better protection for the flow of data across borders, but it lacks balanced intellectual property provisions and protections for online intermediaries.

The Computer & Communication Industry Association has long supported the idea of “fast-track” trade promotion authority. However, given the stunning growth in digital trade, CCIA is disappointed to observe the lack of strong protections for that segment of the economy.

The following statement may be attributed to CCIA President & CEO, Ed Black:

“We are encouraged that the TPA legislation seeks to promote digital trade in goods and services, and to enable cross-border data flows.  Internet service exports help drive the U.S. economy, facilitating commerce across new and traditional industries.

“But 21st-century trade agreements need to address 21st-century issues, and the bills’ intellectual property language does not reflect the needs of the modern global Internet related economy.  The Internet sector increasingly relies upon, and needs in our trade agreements, the type of balancing provisions that exist in U.S. copyright law (such as fair use and online safe harbors), and protections for Internet intermediaries, which are entirely absent.

“These are crucial omissions.  We see foreign states hastily conjuring up new IP rights and regulations, which can stifle innovation — such as property rights for news headlines. These can be used to penalize U.S. Internet services entering foreign markets; thus balanced IP provisions and intermediary protections are necessary to maintain the United States’ capability to succeed in exporting Internet services.  We achieve nothing by nominally requiring trading partners to open their markets to digital commerce if they can effectively close them off again with new liability rules or IP regulations.”

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