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.


chas said...

Free trade for the internet economy is good so long as fair practise is employed by all involved.
Even companies that have high moral principles in theory, like Google, have recently been shown to be not so squeeky clean themseves re collection and dissemination of information.
The unauthorised acquisition and businesses of email addresses and other personal information from homes all accross the UK, Germany and other nations has now been stopped by Google.
Transparency and honesty must be a basic foundation for all major players in this new age of e-information and e-commerce.
As we move down the river of ever speedier and open exchange of information big world players like Google need to demonstrate big honesty too in their dealings at all times.
The internet economy will flourish more quickly if the enablers, such as Google and even eventually Baidu, are universally trusted.

Arthur said...

I applaud Google for recognizing the importance of the WTO Agreement to the information technology business. Trade liberalization and and the free flow of information should go hand-in-hand.

Brian S Hall said...

I think this paper is helpful in opening up those countries that actively restrict information and access. Of course, as Google well knows, this applies to businesses as well (or should).