STATEMENT: Kudos to USTR for Updating U.S. Trade Policy to Not Undermine AI, Privacy, and Other Digital Governance Initiatives that Congress and the White House Are Considering

CONTACT:  Jimmy Wyderko

For Immediate Release: Oct. 25, 2023




Kudos to USTR for Updating U.S. Trade Policy to Not Undermine AI, Privacy, and Other Digital Governance Initiatives that Congress and the White House Are Considering


WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the Biden administration’s announcement that the U.S. government will no longer support Trump-era “digital trade” proposals pushed by Big Tech lobbyists at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Lori Wallach, director of the Rethink Trade program at the American Economic Liberties Project said:


“We commend the Biden administration for defending U.S. workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs by withdrawing U.S. government support for a Big Tech plan to commandeer trade negotiations and rig the rules against digital policies needed here and around the world to counter Big Tech abuses.


The terms that the Trump administration proposed at the WTO in 2019 broke from two decades of U.S. policy and reflected uniquely extreme provisions that Big Tech interests managed to slip into the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement but that do not appear in any previous U.S. congressionally approved deals with e-commerce or “digital trade” provisions. 


Thankfully, the Biden administration’s approach to “digital trade” respects that Congress and regulatory agencies are now developing U.S. digital policies to promote fair markets and safeguard Americans’ privacy, civil rights and right to repair and rejects Big Tech’s efforts to internationally preempt all of this via binding “trade” rules. For instance, the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Surveillance Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden and others, bans flows of bulk U.S. data to “high risk” countries, such as China. This sort of U.S. government regulation of data flows would have been forbidden under one of the WTO provisions that the Trump administration had proposed for which the Biden administration withdrew support.   


It is not surprising that Big Tech lobbyists and their allies are raging against the Biden administration’s decision to no longer support the Trump-era “digital trade” proposals that would undermine the domestic digital governance policies these lobbyists spend millions to kill domestically. The Big Tech lobby had hoped to use trade negotiations to lock in rules to evade accountability for their violations of our privacy and monopolistic abuses.


It is revealing that Big Tech’s actual goals are so self-interested and damaging to most of us that their only tactic is to distract and invoke fear that, absurdly, China will somehow benefit from USTR acting to protect U.S. workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs rather than allowing Big Tech to abuse trade talks. 


Some of the wild-eyed China claims are exactly opposite of the facts. The Biden administration did not cede its ability to safeguard U.S. consumers’ data, but rather withdrew support for a provision that forbids governments from regulating data flows, which would have forbidden the bans on U.S. data flowing to China and other included in bills like the Protecting Americans’ Data from Foreign Surveillance Act. The Biden administration did not leave the WTO talks so China could run the show, but rather as an active participant withdrew support for a handful of extreme provisions. 



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