Internet Policy Observatory


Celia Lerman

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The question of how Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) affect internet policy is crucial for the global evolution of the internet. Although countries agree that no nations should impose restrictions on the development of the internet in other nations, FTAs are playing an important role in shaping local internet regulations. Indeed, since the implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) in 1995, FTAs have commonly included international intellectual property obligations. With the evolution of cyberspace and cross-border e-commerce over the past 15 years, treaties of this type also started to incorporate internet policy regulations, such as obligations regarding countries’ country-code domain name (ccTLD) systems, internet service provider (ISP) liabilities, and treatment of personal data. Through FTAs, some countries are bilaterally agreeing to obligations related to local internet operations, in exchange for more favorable trade conditions. This situation has led many countries to alter their internet systems with transplanted foreign regulations, which are frequently inadequate to meet local needs, and in the worst cases, it poses severe threats to internet users’ rights. This paper analyses the landscape of FTAs that impact internet policy in Latin America. It shows how FTAs have shaped internet policy in a network of countries – in many cases, leading these countries to create regulations that have not undergone local public scrutiny.

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Date Posted: 06 February 2017