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EU digital trade rules: undermining attempts to rein in Big Tech

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Photo: Enrique Dans / CC BY 2.0

The Left in the European Parliament | 28 March 2023

EU digital trade rules: undermining attempts to rein in Big Tech

by Deborah James

This report shows how Big Tech companies are
working to constrain the ability of EU democratic
bodies to regulate their activities in the public interest
through “trade” agreements, which are binding and

Digitalization is the defining economic transformation
of our time. The benefits to society are well-known,
but the harms caused from the expansion of Big Tech
are still being understood. The EU has started to
recognise the urgent need rein in some of Big Tech’s
most pernicious practices. The Digital Services Act
(DSA), the Digital Markets Act (DMA), along with the
Data Act, the Data Governance Act (DGA) and the
Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) are first steps
towards ensuring that the digital sector of the
economy operates under the same framework of fair
play and the public interest as the rest of the economy.
The same EU that is advancing new laws governing
the digital economy is promoting a digital trade
policy that contradicts, and would severely constrain,
current and future public interest policymaking in
the EU and beyond.

Through a number of bilateral and regional trade
agreements Big Tech is seeking to maintain a policy
environment which favors private control of
technological resources and practices, and data, for
supernormal profit. Control over data – and in
particular, the ability to transfer data across borders
– and keeping their algorithms or source codes secret
are the top goals of Big Tech in any “digital trade”

The EU has finalized trade agreements with a
dedicated digital trade chapter with Canada,
Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, the UK, Mexico, Chile,
Mercosur, and New Zealand. And is currently
negotiating digital trade chapters with Indonesia,
Australia, India, the region of Eastern and Southern
Africa (ESA), and plurilaterally in the WTO.

This research analyses the most dangerous clauses
included in the EU digital trade agenda (Free flow
of data, ban on data localisation and non-disclosure
of source code). It identifies 10 reasons why it will
be harmful for European society, Europe’s green
agenda and democracy at large.

Read the executive summary (pdf)

Read the full report (pdf)

 source: The Left in the European Parliament