Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Hearing on “International Data Flows: Promoting Digital Trade in the 21st Century” before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet of the Committee on the Judiciary

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.j
“The growth of the United States economy relies on the expansion of the global digital economy and efficient cross-border data flow.  

“According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, digital trade increased U.S. average wages by nearly 5 percent and spurred the creation of about 2.4 million full time positions in 2011.  That same year, digital trade also increased our Nation’s annual Gross Domestic Product by 4.8 percent.

“As we hear from today’s witnesses, I would like for us to consider the following points.

“To begin with, any discussion on digital trade and unrestricted cross-border data flows requires a serious discussion on surveillance reform.

“Earlier this year a coalition of companies, trade associations, and civil rights organizations wrote to the leadership of both parties to outline the economic cost of ‘a significant erosion of global public trust in both the U.S. Government and the U.S. technology sector.’  Their fears appear to have been prescient.

“Last month, citing concerns about insufficient privacy safeguards in the United States, the Court of Justice of the European Union suspended the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework that allows about 4,400 U.S.-based companies to move digital information across the Atlantic.

“The decision is a reminder that we need to have a thorough conversation about surveillance reform.  Without one, we cannot fully address eliminating restrictions on cross-border data flow.
“A couple of weeks ago, the House took a step toward a fuller discussion by passing H.R. 1428, the Judicial Redress Act, which Congressman Sensenbrenner introduced and I proudly cosponsored.

“This bill extends to the citizens of certain foreign countries privacy protections provided under U.S. law.  And, it will facilitate information-sharing partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the globe, which will enhance our Nation’s security.

“Although there is far more work to be done, I hope that our allies will take our work on the Judicial Redress Act as a sign of good faith and a first step.

“But, we must continue to work to restore the public trust necessary for the continued success of U.S. industry overseas while protecting individual rights.

“Another factor we should consider is how digital trade and cross-border data flows are transforming how U.S. consumers and small businesses operate and interact.

“For example, Ford and Boeing analyze in real time digital data from their vehicles and aircraft.  This technology enables them to diagnose problems and quickly find solutions, which saves lives as well as saves consumers money.

“Similarly, small businesses depend on having efficient cross-border data flow in digital trade.  For example, digital trade affords them the ability to expand into foreign markets.

“Consumers rely on online payment processors like PayPal to process their payments globally from purchases on online platforms and small businesses.

“Finally, our Committee should consider the regulatory issues presented by the flow of data across international borders.

“Congress, the Administration, foreign governments, and non-governmental actors should provide solid consumer protections that safeguard the development of these ever-increasing data flows.

“Today’s discussion will help illuminate barriers to future growth and development.

“For instance, restrictions – such as data localization mandates – hinder economic development in those countries that erect barriers to digital trade.

“On the other hand, some barriers are necessary to protect against the digital trade of illegal goods and services, such as digital piracy and the trafficking of child pornography.

“Accordingly, we should seek to strike the right balance with respect to restrictions on digital trade and how they affect consumers and U.S.-based businesses.

“I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses.”

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