At a time when leaders in the EU are poised to propose privacy rules that could well restrict the activities of US businesses, Google , Microsoft , Citigroup, IBM , GE and other major American companies have urged the United States to push for trade rules that protect the free flow of information over the Internet. In particular, the group’s Report available here urges that countries avoid "digital protectionism," and the report specifically addresses security and privacy:
Security and Privacy. The business community supports the right of governments to ensure the safety, security and privacy of its citizens and recognizes that approaches may differ between countries and across sectors. At the same time, as in any measure affecting international trade, governments must be able to communicate clearly the rules, rationale and compliance procedures governing these interests to businesses and individuals and make certain that those procedures are not overly disguised restriction to international trade. For example, some countries have discriminated in favor of local businesses by selectively applying filtering regimes which degrade service; by mandating the use of domestic products or intellectual property; by requiring product certifications to be carried out locally; by rerouting traffic from global Internet brands to local competitors; or by applying their laws in a manner that discriminates against foreign suppliers or services. In addition, governments often work outside of established legal frameworks or processes when seeking commercial, financial or personal data, which raises a host of concerns about privacy, safety and security.
US Deputy Chief Technology Officer Danny Weitzner, in a similar vein, warned today in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce that EU rules may be too stringent and that the Obama Administration will work to convince European regulators that voluntary but enforceable industry codes of conduct are the way to go. Also, the FTC today applauded the approval by the forum on Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) of a new initiative to harmonize cross-border data privacy protection among members of APEC designed to enhance the protection of consumer data that moves between the United States and other APEC members.