Leaked trade deal stops countries from saying where your data goes

There’s been a fair share of leaked trade deals raising hackles in recent memory, but the latest could have some big repercussions for your data privacy. WikiLeaks has slipped out details of the in-progress Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and one of its clauses would prevent the US, European Union and 23 other nations from controlling both where your data is stored as well as whether or not it’s accessible from outside of the country. Germany, for example, couldn’t demand that Facebook and Google store residents’ account information on local servers.


The pact might also be bad news if you’re a big fan of open source programs. One article would ban countries from requiring access to the code of “mass-market” software in order to provide services related to that software. A TISA partner could still use Linux, OpenOffice and other software with easy-to-dissect code, but it couldn’t require that kind of software.


Negotiations for TISA are happening behind closed doors, and it’s not clear whether or not these measures would make the final cut. However, they’re definitely problematic. The restrictions on exports would prevent Russia-like control over data that makes it easier to censor and snoop on your communications, but they’d also make it hard to stop your info from traveling overseas. Likewise, while the open source clause would allow for more flexibility in software, it also risks weakening security by making it harder to check for spy agency back doors. As a whole, the agreement’s tech-related elements favor businesses over privacy rights and transparency.


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