Should Internet Censorship Be Considered A Trade Barrier?

from the bad-idea-for-a-good-reason? dept

I’m generally wary of attempts to use international trade agreements to bludgeon through other policies. For example, Hollywood has used that system for ages to force through bad copyright laws on other nations. So, consider me a bit skeptical to hear that the EU is now looking to claim that internet censorship should be considered a trade barrier. I certainly respect the reasoning, that internet censorship is bad, and it’s not a good idea to encourage such policies. However, tying it to trade agreements is likely to open a potentially dangerous can of worms, while probably having little to no impact on getting censoring countries to change their policies.

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Comments on “Should Internet Censorship Be Considered A Trade Barrier?”

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Drawmack says:


Tying two unrelated concepts in order to foster the desired outcome is always a bad idea. First of all, if we tie censorship to trade agreements then we also tie censorship to embargoes. For example I live in the U.S., so if this tie is successfully made then I’ll not be able to view any site from Cuba.

Additionally, it could prevent a politically just embargo against someone because the trade embargo would create an information embargo.

If trade embargoes, imply information embargoes then we truly are at the mercy of our government’s honesty on foreign policy. Does this sound like a good thing to you?

Xenu Atkinson says:

good idea, good reason

When China forces Western companies to comply with the Communist Party’s arbitrary censorship agenda, those Western companies are forced to put onto the Chinese market hobbled, incomplete products. Whereas China’s stock in trade (right now)is generally upper-stream manufactured goods, the United States economy has turned into a heavily services-oriented, information-rich market. The firms that are thriving in our marketplace simply don’t do well in China’s environment of artificial barriers and rampant cronyism. (See, for example, Yahoo’s experience from 1999 to 2005–they eventually had to pass off Yahoo! China to a Chinese firm precisely because they couldn’t walk an impossible line.)

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