Monday, November 15, 2010
Promoting Free Trade for the Internet Economy
Today we’re releasing a white paper [PDF] that explores the ways that governments impose limits on the free flow of information online. It’s pretty wonky stuff, but the premise is simple: In addition to infringing human rights, governments that block the free flow of information on the Internet are also blocking trade and economic growth.
Over the last two decades, the Internet has delivered tremendous economic and trade benefits. It has driven record increases in productivity, spurred innovation, created new economies, and fueled international trade. In part this is because the Internet makes geographically distant markets easy to reach.
But this engine of economic growth is increasingly coming under attack. According to one study, more than forty governments now engage in broad-scale restriction of online information. Governments are blocking online services, imposing non-transparent regulation, and seeking to incorporate surveillance tools into their Internet infrastructure. These are the trade barriers of the 21st century economy.
In the paper we’re releasing today, we urge policymakers in the United States, European Union and elsewhere to take steps to break down barriers to free trade and Internet commerce. These issues present challenges, but also an opportunity for governments to align 21st century trade policy with the 21st century economy.