Information & Communication Technology

No Trade Off - How the Free Flow of Data Enhances Trade and Human Rights

20 July 2016

This IHRB report provides an overview of the connections between trade and human rights and the importance of data flows in this context, as well as current threats and obstacles to cross border trade and the free flow of information. 

Background

In recent years, governments have deployed several legislative and regulatory measures aimed at prohibiting the use of certain technologies or applications, blocking website content, and requiring data to reside on local servers - all as a means of controlling and impeding information flows. These restrictions are imposed, at times, with a view to  protecting national security or national interests. Such restrictions may not only curb privacy as well as other human rights, but also limit legitimate economic activity, including cross border trade. 

Message

Cross border data flows are integral to international trade transactions, which increasingly rely on information exchange, electronic payments, and cloud storage. Restrictions on the free flow of  information not only hinder economic growth; they can also lead to adverse human rights impacts. 

Find Out More

This report examines six areas in which government-imposed restrictions on the free flow of information could impact negatively on trade and human rights, and provides recommendations to governments legislating in often sensitive areas including:

  • Data localisation
  • Encryption
  • Content censorship through filtering/blocking
  • User registration requirements
  • Connectivity and Access
  • Restrictions on cross border data flows

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