The Canadian government has frequently touted its commitment to transparency and consultation with respect to its trade negotiations, citing a steady stream of open events and its receptiveness to public feedback. Indeed, since the renegotiation of NAFTA was placed back on the table, officials say they have talked to nearly […]
Post Tagged with: "nafta"
Canadian Position on Data Localization Rules in Trade Deals Revealed: Protection for Government Data Only
Data localization rules, which require data to be stored locally, have emerged as an increasingly popular legal method for providing some additional assurances about the privacy protection for personal information. Although heavily criticized by those who fear that it harms the free flow of information, requirements that personal information be stored within the local jurisdiction is an unsurprising reaction to concerns about the lost privacy protections if the data is stored elsewhere. Data localization requirements are popping up around the world with European requirements in countries such as Germany, Russia, and Greece; Asian requirements in Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia; Australian requirements for health records, and Latin America requirements in Brazil. Canada has not been immune to the rules either with both British Columbia and Nova Scotia creating localization requirements for government data.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade released its detailed study on the priorities of Canadian stakeholders in NAFTA earlier today. I appeared before the committee to discuss intellectual property and digital trade issues in September. The report includes notable recommendations on culture (retain the cultural exemption in NAFTA) and digital rights (ensure that digital trade provisions do not undermine Canadians’ privacy rights or security of their data, a nod to concerns over data localization and data transfer rules). It also features an important discussion on the intellectual property chapter, with clear support for retaining a made-in-Canada approach consistent with international standards.
Steve Verheul, Canada’s lead NAFTA negotiator, appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade earlier this week to provide an update on the negotiations. In addition to confirming Canada’s commitment to a cultural exception (Verheul acknowledged that the U.S. “has not reacted positively”), Verheul was asked about the digital trade chapter. He indicated that there has been significant progress on issues such as online consumer protection and privacy. He also touched on two other issues: one a Canadian ask and the other a U.S. priority.
From a Canadian perspective, Verheul said that Canada wants a net neutrality provision included in NAFTA, noting:
Canada’s Missing Internet Provision: Why NAFTA Offers the Chance to Establish Long Overdue Online Speech Safeguards
During the earliest days of the commercial Internet, the United States enacted the Communications Decency Act, legislation designed to address two concerns with the rapidly growing online world: the availability of obscene materials and the liability of Internet services hosting third party content. While the obscenity provisions in the 1996 law were quickly struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, the liability rules emerged as a cornerstone of U.S. Internet policy.
The rules, which many regard as the single most important legal protection for free speech on the Internet, establish a safe harbour that ensures online services are not liable for the content posted by their users. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that over the past two decades, the CDA Section 203(c) provision has been used by every major Internet service – from Google to Amazon to Airbnb – to ensure that courts, not private companies, determine what is lawful and permitted to remain online.