- Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by David Deese
Chapter 23: Trade and the Internet: policies in the US, the EU and Canada
Edward Snowden, the computer whiz who leaked details of the National Security Agency (NSA’s) controversial PRISM program, probably didn’t aim to undermine US–EU free trade talks in July 2013. However, Snowden’s revelations that America was collecting phone calls and Internet communications of foreign citizens, as well as using the Internet to spy on allied governments, drove a wedge between the two trade giants. Within days the EU Parliament announced an investigation, the German Prosecutor General began looking into espionage charges and German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her support for tougher rules governing the privacy of EU citizens’ data. French President François Hollande flirted with the idea of calling off negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), while President Hendrik Ilves of Estonia argued that the right response to PRISM should be to create a secure “European cloud” with high data protection standards. The PRISM program became a trade issue because, like goods and services, information online is traded across borders. That information is stored in servers controlled by big Internet companies, which are almost all US-based. These American companies have to comply with NSA directives, but at the same time these companies may be violating European data protection (also known as privacy) standards. As a result, EU policymakers are determined to achieve stronger privacy protection for European citizens and greater control over cloud services.
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