House group pushes for tech protections in trade agreements

A group of House members is asking U.S. trade negotiators to prioritize the needs to tech companies in trade agreements.

Trade agreements should protect companies that use cloud-based technologies and need to move data across borders, the Congressional High Tech Caucus — led by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) — said in a letter Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

{mosads}The tech sector has long lobbied on trade negotiators to oppose treaties that would limit companies’ ability to move data across borders, such as requirements that companies maintain data centers in a country if they want to process data from that country’s citizens. 

Last week, eight major tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Microsoft launched a campaign calling for limits on government surveillance and international cooperation to allow for cross-border data flows.

The caucus’ letter to Froman pointed to specific countries considering trade policies that could hinder the growth of American tech companies, including Brazil, Canada, Germany and the European Union.

“These policies threaten to harm American and international businesses, global customers, and the successful development of cloud technologies and services, both here and abroad,” the group of lawmakers wrote.

Caucus members cited trade agreements that are currently being negotiated, including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe, the Trade in International Services Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership, which includes Asian and South American countries.

These agreements “provide unique opportunities to create new, common international rules to establish cross-border data flow policies that support global innovation, trade and enhance economic growth,” they said.

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