TPP Likely To Force Canada To Repeal Local Data Protection Laws
from the so-who-voted-for-that? dept
Techdirt has written a couple of times about European sensitivities regarding data protection, in particular when it comes to privacy rules requiring local storage of personal data. It turns out that Europe is not alone in its concern that agreements like TAFTA/TTIP and TISA could jeopardize this approach. An article in The Tyee points out that two of Canada’s provinces — British Columbia and Nova Scotia — have requirements that sensitive personal data must be stored locally, and that they are likely to fall victim to TPP because the US insists the laws are “non-tariff barriers”:
U.S. negotiators are pushing hard to eliminate national laws in TPP countries that require sensitive personal data to be stored on secure local servers, or within national borders. This goal collides with the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Act and similar regulations in Nova Scotia, which are listed as “foreign trade barriers” in a 2015 United States Trade Representative (USTR) report.
According to that report, the B.C. privacy laws “prevent public bodies such as primary and secondary schools, universities, hospitals, government-owned utilities, and public agencies from using U.S. services when personal information could be accessed from or stored in the United States.”
Irrespective of your views on whether such local storage requirements are reasonable or not, what’s significant here is that TPP, ostensibly a trade agreement, may force Canada to repeal local privacy laws. That fact underlines why the secret nature of the negotiations is profoundly anti-democratic: matters are being decided behind closed doors that should rightly be debated openly.
Data flows are just one example: TPP and other “trade” agreements like TAFTA/TTIP and TISA will have profound implications for many aspects of everyday life in signatory countries. And yet the public in those nations will be able to provide almost no input into the negotiating process, largely on the grounds that the discussions are “just” technical adjustments to trade rules. Indeed, most people aren’t even aware of what is being done in their name: a recent poll suggests that three in four Canadians have never heard of TPP, so the chances that a massive wave of public outrage might yet save those local data privacy laws are pretty close to nil.