USTR Warns That EU-Only Cloud To Avoid NSA Surveillance May Violate Trade Agreements

from the unwise dept

The USTR seems to have a worrying need to blame other countries. Alongside the infamous Special 301 Report which puts a selection of nations on the naughty step because of their failure to bend to the will of the US copyright industries, there’s the less well-known Section 1377 Review , which considers “Compliance with Telecommunications Trade Agreements.” Here’s some information about the latest one (pdf):

The Section 1377 Review (“Review”) is based on public comments filed by interested parties and information developed from ongoing contact with industry, private sector, and foreign government representatives in various countries. This year USTR received four comments and two reply comments from the private sector, and one comment from a foreign government.

Clearly something of a specialist area, then. One of those comments comes from the United States Council for International Business, which describes itself as “among the premier pro-trade, pro-market liberalization organizations.” A concern it raises is the following:

The ability to send, access and manage data remotely across borders is integral to global services, including converged and hybrid services such as cloud services. However, the tremendous increase in cross-border data flows has raised concerns on the part of many governments. Given that cross-border services trade is, at its essence, the exchange of data, unnecessary restrictions on data flows have the effect of creating barriers to trade in services.

That seems to be reflected in the following section of the USTR’s review:

Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a “Schengen cloud” by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them.

In particular:

Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG), Germany’s biggest phone company, is publicly advocating for EU-wide statutory requirements that electronic transmissions between EU residents stay within the territory of the EU, in the name of stronger privacy protection. Specifically, DTAG has called for statutory requirements that all data generated within the EU not be unnecessarily routed outside of the EU; and has called for revocation of the U.S.-EU “Safe Harbor” Framework, which has provided a practical mechanism for both U.S companies and their business partners in Europe to export data to the United States, while adhering to EU privacy requirements.

Of course, Deutsche Telekom is not the only one calling for Safe Harbor to be revoked: the European Parliament’s inquiry into the mass surveillance of EU citizens has also proposed that, along with a complete rejection of TAFTA/TTIP unless it respects the rights of Europeans. Strangely, the USTR doesn’t mention that fact in its complaint, but goes on to say:

The United States and the EU share common interests in protecting their citizens’ privacy, but the draconian approach proposed by DTAG and others appears to be a means of providing protectionist advantage to EU-based ICT suppliers.

You’ve got to love the idea that too much privacy protection is “draconian”. The USTR continues to tiptoe around the real reason that not just Deutsche Telekom but even Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, are both keen on the idea of an EU-only cloud:

Given the breath of legitimate services that rely on geographically-dispersed data processing and storage, a requirement to route all traffic involving EU consumers within Europe, would decrease efficiency and stifle innovation. For example, a supplier may transmit, store, and process its data outside the EU more efficiently, depending on the location of its data centers. An innovative supplier from outside of Europe may refrain from offering its services in the EU because it may find EU-based storage and processing requirements infeasible for nascent services launched from outside of Europe.

The USTR saves what it obviously sees as its killer punch for last:

Furthermore, any mandatory intra-EU routing may raise questions with respect to compliance with the EU’s trade obligations with respect to Internet-enabled services. Accordingly, USTR will be carefully monitoring the development of any such proposals.

Got that, Europeans? If you dare to try to protect yourselves by creating a slightly more secure EU-only cloud in response to the NSA breaking into everything and anything, you may find yourself referred to the World Trade Organization or something….

It’s interesting that the USTR brings up this issue — doubtless a reflection of the huge direct losses that revelations about massive surveillance on Europeans and others are likely to cause the US computing industry. But trying to paint itself as the wronged party here is not going to endear the USTR to European politicians. At a time when Safe Harbor and even the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations are being called into question in the EU, such an aggressive and insulting stance seems a very stupid move.

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Comments on “USTR Warns That EU-Only Cloud To Avoid NSA Surveillance May Violate Trade Agreements”

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David says:

Re: Actually, that was the plan.

That’s why they use things like “Schengen net” for the naming: the UK is not a member of that treaty. Now of course there is a big question mark behind what the French and a few others are doing to the Internet, but at least they seem to be a bit more independent from the US/UK spooks.

I'm_Having_None_Of_It says:

Re: Re: while we're at it

I’ve always thought the EU worked better as a trading bloc. Like many others, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of a United States of Europe because the smaller nations would be swallowed up, reduced to mere provinces in a Franco-German empire. They’ve already imposed austerity on the rest of us, with horrible results. What would happen next?

It’s unaccountable enough as it is, and DON’T get me started on the Euro (remember the disastrous attempt to get Sterling joined to the ERM?). I think there would be less of a push to get us out of the EU if Brussels would confine itself to running a trading bloc instead of trying to create a super-state to compete with the USA. We’ve conceded enough sovereignty as it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: while we're at it

The problem for an ultra-liberal organisation is that EU will be able to haul in more contracts from cloud-providers and their members want those contracts to go to USA and their member-companies. A pure economic incentive to lobby in the ultra-liberal tradition!

The voluntary US-EU safe harbor agreement has been critizised in several reports from EU and other sources. Defending it seems more like a weapon against DTAC than a real complaint since the substitute is unknown.

That they attack routing seems like pure petty whining. Unless Merkel has a plan for how to do it, it seems far too speculative to attack the overall idea.

David says:

Large expense to the U.S. taxpayer

The U.S. taxpayer is paying the NSA on the order of dozens of billions of dollars in return for industrial and other spionage. If the Europeans route around the U.S., it means that the U.S. needs to install and maintain and hide their own transcontinental backbones for routing all the eavesdropping to their data centers. That will require additional billions in order not to let the NSA data centers turn out a waste of money, and it will be quite harder to hide.

Instead of the average American paying thousands of dollars for being the world Stasi, it might mean tens of thousands.

Kevin says:

Re: Large expense to the U.S. taxpayer

The USA can’t really run a trans atlantic cable to Europe without their permission. The moment it entered national waters some european sub would just go in and cut it.

I see communications lasers being big in the comming years. Cheap . long distance , carries a lot of data , and the beam doesn’t spread so it’s quite difficult to intercept …

Beech says:

It is funny that the USTR is trying to seem oblivious as to why the EU would ever consider such a thing. “Hey! Why are you guys trying to make your own cloud and keep your sweet sweet data away from us? It’s not like anyone is abusing it over here, right?”

It’s like the US is pretending that when it comes to the NSA and USTR it’s like one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, they’re both just giving Europe the middle finger coincidentally.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

And anyway, it has been decades since any U.S. administration has shown tangible interest in matters pertaining to a democracy or a republic. So there is not much to be partisan about.

Washington D.C. calls its politicians Democrats and Republicans and its football team Redskins.

Nothing to get partisan about: it’s all the same filthy pack.

ECA (profile) says:

Can I say,

That I havent seen such a comedy of idiocy and comedy(classic) since Laurel and hardy, Kaplin, and many others..
A group Runs around this world, and TRIEs to get all these nations to BLINDLY sign an agreement, it takes YEARS AND YEARS(I wonder why), then to bring it back to the USA and it can be voted DOWN??

There has to be something in the stew pot, BOILING..How many have they PAID to pass this treaty? HOW many USA cits, have PAID for OVER PRICED GOODS, so they could PAY THEM OFF.

Tom (profile) says:

I bet they already know...

… that this trade deal will fall apart (thanks to the NSA spying on everyone taking part in the deal, of course.) They’re trying to manage the reason *why* it fell apart – trying to blame it on the reaction to the NSA spy scandal, rather than the scandal itself.

Sorry Americans, you thieving, spying scum – the Balkanization of the internet will continue apace, and the faster you’re routed around like a malicious network node, the better. Bye bye! Maybe we’ll welcome you back online when you stop craving “information dominance” so madly.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: I bet they already know...

Actually if you elected your US govt then YES you are ALL culpable and vicariously so.

If on the other hand you ahven’t voted then that’s also a culpability.

See the rest of the world understands it’s not the American people who allow this per say. On the other hand the rest of the world understands that the American people on a whole don’t really give a flying fuck what happens in the rest of the planet as long as it doesn’t effect them then need someone/thing to blame if it does (terrorists).

basically YOUR governments and bureaucracies have done this.. ipso facto you have allowed it to occur. What part of “you are all ultimately responsible” don’t you understand?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I bet they already know...

What you say would be true if a different outcome were actually possible. I maintain that it’s not, at least not in the short or medium terms.

The problem isn’t primarily the people we elect. The problem is primarily the system we elect them into. Changing that is a long-haul proposition, especially since it requires one or more Constitutional amendments. We have been moving, slowly but surely, in that direction.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I bet they already know...

The system might be a huge part yes, though apathy and ego is also the other two major problems you need to overcome, which brings me back to responsibility being an ALL response.

I’m not stating that the USA is the only nation that has this problem, though the USA is currently in the unenviable position of being the so called “Democratic Leader” of what people strive for so needs to either set an example or suffer the same fate in the long run of Rome and Greece and other civilisations (political models) of history. In the long run if it isn’t changed your economy will collapse (which is why other jurisdictions are trying to get away from the US$) civil strife up to and including civil war could occur and the 95% of the worlds population could isolate you until changes are had. That is if your own govt doesn’t go into its own isolationist stance that its trying its hardest to currently do not seen since the 1930’s

Maybe we all need a new way of doing things in the world? Dunno.. and nope I have no idea what. 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I bet they already know...

I, for one, reject the concept that one is responsible for the actions of others. I reject the concept of some sort of obligation to intervene in the actions of others. However, even if I were to accept this idea, you would still be wrong, based on your own logic, to blame all Americans. You mentioned those who voted for politicians who won their elections and you mentioned those who didn’t vote at all but you left out those who voted for politicians that lost their elections. It’s interesting that you left that last group of people out of the equation. They clearly did try to intervene. What more do you want? Must they take up arms against the U.S. government in some suicide mission in order to not be “ultimately responsible.”

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I bet they already know...

Those that voted for politicians and lost are slightly less responsible yes. But they are still rsponsible in the long run as well since it means they did not try hard enough to support those (other than by the simple act of voting) who they wanted in.

Community and social responsibility does not just mean ticking a box (or whatever your method) it also requires actions that enable views to be heard by your neighbours, to debate and critically analyse your views compared to others. To stop the apathetic statements of “I am not responsible for others” when in fact being a part of any community means you are responsible in some way. Stop blaming others (an American pastime it seems) and take responsibility for things. [interestingly this is what your First Amendment is all about]

And Yes if it has gotten to the point where diplomacy and civil discourse has broken down and your government has gotten into the realm of where you and a majority don’t want it then forceful actions up to armed response is warranted. Because ultimately YOU ALL are responsible for your government and its unlawful unethical and wrongful towards the rest of the planet (remember 95% of the world is NOT the USA) and if it gets to a tipping point. The other 95% will hold you fully accountable no matter what you threaten us with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I bet they already know...

If you notice, so called representative government does not represent its constituents. Many who are supposedly eligible to vote are either outright not allowed to or are strongly discouraged from doing so, and even if they do vote their vote is negligible due to the way in which district lines have been drawn. Therefore, holding them accountable for that which is not within their control is rather silly. Blaming the voter mantra has become tiresome – and indicates a lack of understanding the situation at hand.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I bet they already know...

You do realise I’m not an American, have no real need nor care to understand your way of voting or not as the case may be and basically for you to state that people are being outright dissuaded from voting means those people even allowing that to happen is a problem of them! Most likely either a problem of apathy, lack of education to what their actual legal responsibilities and rights are, or both. I go with both.

I’m not sure you have actually read any of my comments here in this thread or if you have you are cherry picking what your confirmation bias states that is “wrong’ or your ego itself cannot take.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 I bet they already know...

Yes of course which is why what happened to Japan and Germany after WW2 which was instigated by the Allies (USA mostly forced it to occur) was silly too.

Or is it ok for the USA to do to others, but not ok for others to do to the USA.. see this is where the rest of the world sees the American average citizen as an egocentric hypocrite. Not saying it’s a correct assumption but its reality and maybe actions on your behalf will make the planet see otherwise.

I mean what are YOU yourself doing to hold your govt accountable? Just whinging on a bulletin board over what I am stating or actually doing something productive which could be personally damaging in short term but beneficial to ALL in long term.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 I bet they already know...

What does ww2 have to do with this? Did people get to vote on that?

Again you seem to think the entire population of a nation is in lock step with their politicians and support their actions, why is this?

Interesting that you put yourself in the position of speaking for “the rest of the world” and are capable of articulating their opinions.

So, I am an egocentric hypocrite because I do not think one should be held accountable for the actions of another – this is an interesting point of view but is somewhat difficult to comprehend. Perhaps that is because I am a citizen of ‘murica and we are all like that.

Then you imply “the rest of the world” is without fault and conducts themselves in an orderly democratic fashion where politicians are voted out and the replacement does exactly what the voters want.

Wagging your finger at others proclaiming their culpability is so much fun, I’ll bet you are a riot at parties.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 I bet they already know...

The peoples of Japan and Germany were ALL held vicariously responsible for the actions of their governments. Nuremberg Trials absolutely made that crystal clear and the current laws in Germany are very specifically tailored due to this finding, not to mention the laws in Japan dealing with an Armed Army/Air/Navy Force.

I’m not stating that America is anywhere near Japan nor Germany before WW2 (though its coming close to its isolationist stand that it had during the 30’s) I’m showing those as examples that tear your theory down.

As for the rest.. This “>link to my comment above (Notice the timestamp compared to your comment I’m replying to here) states my feelings about why the USA is not only alone in this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I bet they already know...

“On the other hand the rest of the world understands that the American people on a whole don’t really give a flying fuck what happens in the rest of the planet as long as it doesn’t effect them”

Moneyed interests don’t give a fuck … little people everywhere do. Go buy a clue

Anonymous Coward says:

The US is acting like a spoiled little brat lately.
It’s used to getting what it wants so when it’s told no it throws a temper tantrum.
Constantly spouts off its the most bestest best nation in the world because it says so with no proof to back it up.
Lies about doing wrong things and when it’s caught with its hand in the cookie jar it doubles down on that lie, then comes up with every excuse why they weren’t wrong for wanting the cookies and how “you just don’t understand, you’ll never understand it mom!” and slams the door shut to its room. It continues to tell people who disagree with it that they’re wrong and don’t know anything and lashes out at the people who tattle on them because they got caught.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Um, OK...

I agree with this comment entirely.

This article has nothing to do with NSA. TechDirt tends to make some big stretches to make points (or perhaps, to make slick-sounding headlines), but it ultimately distracts from the real story and ultimately degrades the quality of the content.

I’ve found lately that I use this site more and more as a news feed, immediately clicking on the link to the original story instead of reading the TechDirt commentary.

In other words, some journalists investigate a story and form an opinion, but this reads like you already formed your opinion before starting investigation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Um, OK...

Make no mistake: Techdirt is a heavy lobbyist and draws conspiracists because of their bias against (insert authority) and very strong anti-IP angling (where they actually have some real points below the bias/distortion)!

NSA is very heavily controlled by military, while USTR is very heavily controlled by companies with political interests.
In this context, though, NSA and USTR are under the same umbrella and not recognizing the source of the ideas they are fighting and through that offering real alternatives hurts USCIB since it suggests that they are deliberately pulling punches (A trustwothyness issue).

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Um, OK...

Make no mistake: Techdirt is a heavy lobbyist…

It is? That’s news to me. Now I know Mike has made a trip or two to Washington to speak out against some really, really stupid ideas, but I wouldn’t consider that heavy lobbying by any stretch of the imagination.

…and draws conspiracists…

It’s not a conspiracy theroy if it’s the truth.

..because of their bias against (insert authority)…

By my observation, Techdirt doesn’t have bias against authority at all, they have a bias against stupidity. It’s not really Techdirt’s fault if a lot of people in authority positions do stupid things.

…and very strong anti-IP angling…

Yes, because IP that holds back human innovation is stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Um, OK...

no, they probably didn’t. But now they have to deal with the bullshit your surveillance regime has caused.

Quite frankly, because how far your intelligence agencies have infiltrated american IT companies and for their activities to sabotage IT security, US IT companies cannot be considered trustworthy anymore and If minimizing these risks means restricting their free trade abilities, then it is something they have to live with.

If they have to go whine and complain to someone, they should do so to the US government, because they are the ones who caused this mess in the first place.

Kevin says:

Re: Re:

I’m guessing that attitude only applies to others ,not yourself , American Coward ?

USA broke the trade agreements when the elected government started indulging in industrial espionage. Those agreements are already gone. The fact that the leaders in the computer industry are all american corperations is not a boast. It is damning evidence as to american dishonesty.

As you say , you made your bed , you sleep in it. End of story.

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