Canada-U.S.-Mexico Plan Raises IP, Spam and Privacy Issues

The Canadian, U.S., and Mexican government quietly released their Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America today. While the documents contain the usual high level commitments, several elements are worth watching from an technology and privacy law perspective.

First, the document commits to a "Fake Free North America." This apparently includes a coordinated strategy to combat counterfeiting and piracy. This particular issue was also raised in the recent USTR report and so this new initiative might result in some action. Thankfully, there is no mention of the U.S.’s perception that Canadian copyright reform is inadequate.

Second, the agreement also includes a new Framework of Common Principles for Electronic Commerce between the three countries. Annex C sets out a plan for implementing the principles and two issues caught my eye. First, the plan envisages combating spam through information sharing and the adoption of industry best-practices. This language is not nearly as strong as that used by the National Task Force on Spam, but may reflect the political realities of negotiating principles with the U.S.

Second, the plan calls for the establishment of a formal process for consultation on issues related to the protection of personal information and trans-border data flows, consistent with privacy goals, the needs of legitimate private and public sector business as well as the protection of public safety and national security. If this does indeed result in a formal process, this issue has some potential given the growing concern associated with U.S. law enforcement access to Canadian data and related outsourcing issues.
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