Could The Special 301 Report Be Useful? Proposed Law Would Broaden It To Condemn Internet Censorship
from the that-would-be-nice dept
That said, as long as the USTR is putting together a list of "naughty" countries, why not make it actually a useful list? Senate Finance Committee boss Max Baucus has introduced a bill to normalize trade relations with Russia -- which has been a key concern of the committee for a while. Buried in the plan is something interesting:
In addition, the proposal amends section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 by requiring that the report under section 182 include a description of laws, policies, or practices of the Russian Federation that deny fair and equitable treatment to U.S. digital trade.This may not seem like much, but it could be a big deal. Section 182 of the Trade Act is also known as 19 USC § 2242, which basically sets up the Special 301 report.
So, basically, this little tidbit could shift the Special 301 report so that it doesn't just identify countries who Hollywood and Big Pharma don't like, but will also check to see if Russia is "denying fair and equitable treatment to US digital trade." What does that mean? Well, you may have noticed (as we did) that Russia just approved a new internet censorship bill, which certainly could deny "fair and equitable treatment" to certain digital goods.
Right now, it looks like (for unclear reasons) this provision is just limited to Russia, but if that works, it's not difficult to see it expanded globally. Wouldn't it be interesting if the USTR was actually forced to make the Special 301 report useful, by not just having it focus on intellectual property issues, but also on whether or not a country was censoring the internet and blocking useful internet services?