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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

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Thursday, May 17 • 16:00 - 17:00
Can trade agreements such as CPTPP NAFTA and RCEP be used as a tool for advancing digital rights?

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While the worst of the IP chapter may be suspended in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), ongoing negotiations in trade agreements continue to put our digital rights at stake: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and what remains of the TPP itself, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Across the board, digital rights advocates are concerned about the serious procedural shortcomings in trade agreements, such as lack of transparency and lack of meaningful consultation with civil society. Additionally, such agreements impact Internet policy in substantive ways, but do not accord with the established multistakeholder nature of Internet governance.

However, differences of opinion have emerged as well. Some digital rights advocates see opportunity as well as threat, believing that trade agreements can be effective tools for advancing digital rights. For example, agreements might be used to persuade member countries to improve privacy protections and expand free expression rights or reduce online censorship. On the other hand, other experts among civil society have cautioned against this, noting that the particular model of trade agreements observed to date has increased inequality and given greater rights to big corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment. Thus, these agreements may be more susceptible to giving greater rights to monopolistic Internet giants at the expense of users in the digital context, such as our privacy and personal data rights, fair use rights, and the ability to innovate without permission.

This session will be a roundtable debate among experts and advocates in digital rights and trade, representing different points of view concerning the general issue outlined above. Panellists will engage with each other and the audience to explore this central question: Can regional and international trade agreements be used to advance digital rights, and if so, how? The panel will focus, in particular, on the electronic commerce / digital trade and intellectual property chapters of key trade agreements currently undergoing negotiations, such as NAFTA, RCEP, and CPTPP. Specific provisions to be discussed include data localization and free flow of data, and possible harmonization of users’ rights through fair use in copyright.

Interactivity is built into the session as audience questions will be taken over the course of the debate and integrated into panelists’ discussion throughout.

avatar for Gisela Pérez de Acha

Gisela Pérez de Acha

Public Policy Officer for Latin America, Derechos Digitales
Gisela Perez de Acha is a Mexican lawyer and activist who specialises in free speech and gender rights within the digital world. She is the public policy officer for Latin America at Derechos Digitales, a non-governmental organisation where she mostly conducts research on algorithmic... Read More →

avatar for Maryant Fernandez

Maryant Fernandez

Senior Policy Advisor, European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Maryant is a Senior Policy Advisor at European Digital Rights (EDRi) and a lawyer admitted to the Madrid Bar association. Maryant defends human rights and fundamental freedoms online in the European Union. She works on surveillance and law enforcement, intermediary liability (e-commerce... Read More →
avatar for Deborah James

Deborah James

Director of International Programs, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Deborah coordinates the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network focused on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Her current work focuses on how Big Tech is using "trade" agreements to rewrite the rules of the global economy... Read More →
avatar for Cynthia Khoo

Cynthia Khoo

Lawyer / LL.M. Candidate, Tekhnos Law / University of Ottawa
Cynthia Khoo is a digital rights lawyer and founder of Tekhnos Law. She represents and advises clients on issues such as net neutrality, freedom of expression, copyright, privacy, Internet regulation, intermediary liability, and digital trade. In September 2018, Cynthia will begin... Read More →
avatar for Jeremy Malcolm

Jeremy Malcolm

Senior Global Policy Analyst, EFF
avatar for Milton Mueller

Milton Mueller

Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Milton Mueller is the O.G. of I.G. He directs the Internet Governance Project, a center for research and engagement on global Internet governance. Mueller's books Will the Internet Fragment? (Polity, 2017), Networks and States: The global politics of Internet governance (MIT Press... Read More →
avatar for Gus Rossi

Gus Rossi

Global Policy Director, Public Knowledge
At Public Knowledge I focus on global issues, promoting an open internet, and balanced intellectual property policies around the world.Prior to joining Public Knowledge, I worked for Argentina at the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank and helped a Member of the European... Read More →

Thursday May 17, 2018 16:00 - 17:00 EDT