A Global Solution to Trade and Privacy Protection

By Doreen Edelman


A majority of companies across the globe don’t realize how their spheres of influence extend far beyond where they operate. Often a company has foreign employees, overseas suppliers, and customers that are outside the United States. Link this with the fact that trade is on the rise, with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) projected to add $130 billion into the Global GDP. Trade is more vital than ever for companies in the American South. Technology and innovation in the Southeast are growing like wildfire and attracting a significant amount of global investment, whether from the Pacific Northwest or from overseas. With that attraction comes the transmission of data and products from continent to continent. Countries across the globe need to be concerned with how they’re going to successfully and securely grow trade while keeping their privacy protected. This is where TTIP comes in.

TTIP is a proposed comprehensive trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. Currently, the draft agreement does not address the privacy and information security needs of either party. With increased access to European markets for American-made goods and services, it will promote U.S. international competitiveness, jobs and growth. If companies want to use TTIP as an opportunity to grow trade, they first need to ensure that their customers’ and suppliers’ data is being properly protected. That’s why this Cybersecurity Forum is so important – cybersecurity threatens to affect trade on a daily basis. In order to protect trade, governments need to work together to stay ahead of cyber threats and instill the right privacy and data protection policies.

Unfortunately, the U.S. and the E.U. are not aligned when it comes to privacy protection. The Europeans are concerned with their data being properly protected in the U.S. And, the U.S. has its own data privacy issues with China and is not able to focus on Europe’s privacy needs right now. Since 2000, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission have relied upon a Safe Harbor provision in order to level the playing field for U.S. companies doing business in the E.U. That provision allows U.S. companies to “avoid experiencing interruptions in their business dealings with the E.U. or [face] prosecution by E.U. member state authorities under E.U. member state privacy laws.” However, U.S. companies don’t consider the requirements a real solution to their issues. Perhaps the U.S. can look to Israel as a model for meeting European privacy standards while at the same time protecting national security. Israel’s privacy laws were approved by the European Parliament in 2011. The U.S. has yet to settle on a privacy agreement outside of the E.U. Safe Harbor.

The bottom line is that companies are in need of a global solution, but it will take years. With so many opinions on what is or is not acceptable for privacy laws, companies need to determine how much information they are willing to give up for the sake of national security. How do you want to do business globally?

No matter how your company chooses to pursue cybersecurity and privacy protection, building global partnerships is essential.