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Tech Groups Look to Head Off Digital Protectionism

The major tech associations are calling on the World Trade Organization to keep E-commerce humming while preserving consumer trust and fostering inclusivity. 

That came in a joint position paper Monday (Oct. 7) in advance of the WTO Public Forum Oct. 8-11. 

The groups are looking to prevent internet taxes, customs and duties, various disclosure requirements and other instances of what they see as digital protectionism. 

"Digital trade is critical to the prosperity of all economies and the ability of companies of all sizes and in all sectors to produce, move, market, and sell products and services around the world," they wrote.  

They detailed what they are looking for in any WTO E-commerce agreement: 

1. "Prohibit internet tariffs and customs formalities on electronic transmissions; 

2. "Facilitate the flow of data across borders;

3. "Prohibit requirements to localize the storage and processing of data;

4. "Ensure the protection of personal data;

5. "Prohibit requirements to disclose source code, algorithms, or encryption keys;

6. "Promote government cooperation and regulatory best practices for cybersecurity;

7. "Promote state-of-the-art good regulatory practices in the regulation of digital services;

8. "Pursue “TFA-plus” provisions that facilitate e-commerce, including through increasing deminimis levels and simplifying customs clearance for low-value shipments; 

9. "Promote acceptance of electronic contracts, signatures and authentication;

10. "Ensure the adoption of non-IP intermediary liability protections;

11. "Expand market access for services;

12. "Expand market access for ICT goods through accession to the WTO Information Technology Agreement; and, 

13. "Facilitate access to and use of government data."

Groups signing on to the position paper included ACT | The App Association, BSA | The Software Alliance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Consumer Technology Association.