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2016 Leaks from the TiSA negotiations held in secrecy (Trade in Services Agreement) indicate that TiSA will foil the EU data protection directive of early 2016. TiSA must come under public monitoring and requires an eventual public vote!

TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) stands for ongoing secret negotiations on transborder trade of services. The European Community and more than 50 states globally are involved. Because of the non-democratic, secret process, the public is dependent upon leaks to learn about negotiation details and their current state. While the negotiations started in 2013 already, such leaks were not available before 2016. Unfortunately, the leaks indicate that the successfully adopted EU Data Protection regulation 2016/680 will become obsolete as soon as TiSA will be put in place (in "All about TiSA" you can find a wider evaluation of TiSA and the affected service areas, also based on the mentioned leaks; the TiSA poster [German only] (created by Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy)) shows the key points on a page).

Of course, we cannot yet know the final negotiation results. Nevertheless the leaks clearly show some very dubious wording affecting our digital sovereignty.

  1. TiSA prohibits the regulation of information transfer across borders. Independent of their origin, it will be possible to collect, process, transmit, and store (personal) data.
    This is in obvious contradiction to the widely acclaimed EU Data Protection directive, which was adopted early 2016. The directive installs very strict limitations on the collection, processing, transmittal, and storage of (personal) data.
  2. Based on relevant TiSA chapters, personal data may be subject to local law dependent on where the platform operates.
    This contradicts the European Data Protection directive. For example, the processing of Facebook data in the US can imply the applicability of US law.
  3. The negotiation status, which became public through leaks in the course of 2016, shows that foreign software providers cannot be forced to open up their source code.
    This prohibits the inspection of platform software or security software, which may affect most of the users in Europe, by governments or independent certification entities.
  4. According to TiSA, License agreements may be signed between users and the platform provider and therefore cannot be regulated. This includes, for example, the applicable law in case of legal disputes.
    This implies that local consumer organizations or government agencies would be deprived of important means to protect consumer rights in the face of global, omnipotent platform operators. Illicit license conditions cannot be stopped, e.g. concerning the exploitation of user data or concerning the applicable law.
  5. TiSA requests any regulation to be independent of specific technologies, e.g. when it comes to electronic authentication.
    Authentication based upon Facebook or Twitter tools would therefore be acceptable. Technical standards supporting highest security levels in Europe could not be enforced.
  6. Based on the leaked documents, TiSA does not exclude Internet platforms such as Uber, Facebook etc – therefore they are subject to TiSA rules and out of scope of regulation. Many new offerings of the socalled “Share” economy, which are too new or even still under development and therefore not yet known, cannot be excluded from falling under TiSA rules.
    This is in clear contradiction to other efforts, for example in Germany, where new business models are not immediately regulated to allow for growth and a better understanding of the offerings’ implications on society. However, in the long-term also Internet offerings will have to follow standard rules when it comes to competition law, tax regulation or social costs. TiSA may not allow for such a “learning” phase.

Such far reaching obligations subject to international law, as they are negotiated within the TiSA framework, should be brought to public attention and broadly discussed (as it is done by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, German Federal Government on the topic of Internet platforms). Free trade “yes”, but under clear and broadly accepted rules.

The digital sovereignty of European citizens must not be sacrificed on the altar of “free trade”. Out (democratic) freedom is jeopardized by TiSA as well as our option to create value from our, personal data.