Amsterdam, 25 November 2016: Internal TiSA documents leaked to Greenpeace Netherlands demonstrate how the international agreement is set to threaten Europe with a race to the bottom for data security standards.
The danger is revealed in a leak from the 20th round of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) stating that the provisions of individual countries regarding data protection should not be allowed to constitute “unjustifiable discrimination” or a “barrier to trade”.
The leaked document include a paper on transparency, which outlines how states and “interested persons” must be informed about plans for new regulation. While ordinary citizens lack the opportunities and access to make effective use of such transparency provisions, corporate lobbyists are well placed, and equipped. TiSA’s transparency is asymmetrical in how it favors large corporations that are financially robust and well established. Corporations such as Google or Facebook, whose business is based on the use of personal data, would gain much more influence.
TiSA negotiations are supposed to be concluded by the end of 2016. Due to political uncertainty since the United States presidential election, the negotiation process is now officially suspended, but TiSA negotiators will meet at an interim session during the second week of December. CETA, the trade agreement with Canada, is currently being rushed through the European parliament, although it is beset by major major concerns.
“Let’s stop trade agreements like TTIP, CETA and TISA that only favour the corporate sector. We are not against trade, we are not against trade agreements, but let’s instead talk about better trade deals that benefit all”, said Greenpeace TTIP campaign leader Susan Cohen Jehoram.
TiSA is aimed at facilitating trade in services between 23 parties, among them the EU and the United States, but also emerging countries such as Costa Rica and Turkey. Taken together, the signatories have a hand in about 70 percent of global services, ranging from mobile phone operators and hospitals to energy suppliers. Like the controversial trade agreements TTIP and CETA, TiSA has so far been negotiated mostly in secrecy.
“TiSA is another badly made backroom deal that once again prioritises trade over basic human rights”, says Markus Beckedahl, editor-in-chief of the Netzpolitik.org web portal. “The agreement challenges net neutrality and can make software less safe, posing a threat to people. An agreement that has such wide impact has to be subject to public discussion.”
Proposed TiSA regulations could pose a higher nuclear risk
The TiSA texts published today also reveal that the agreement could bear specific safety risks. In contrast to earlier drafts, the new text no longer allows countries to demand source codes. An exemption for critical infrastructure that was included in earlier versions of this text is scrapped. This could mean for example, a country may not be able in future to monitor the software of a nuclear power plant for possible safety risks.
The texts leaked to Greenpeace amount to 67 pages and are from the 20th round of negotiations, which ended on 25 September. Although there have been further negotiations since then, observers assume that the positions disclosed in the leaked documents have not fundamentally changed. The leaked TiSA texts are posted online at: www.tisa-leaks.org.
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