WASHINGTON D.C. —­­ Yesterday, TechFreedom filed comments on a notice of inquiry from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration regarding “its international Internet policy priorities for 2018 and beyond.” The comments urge NTIA to focus on developing a U.S. alternative to Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and helping other federal agencies to advance that approach diplomatically around the world.

The comments argue:

The free, open, and borderless Internet is at risk of balkanization because of privacy and security regulations. Some jurisdictions are turning away from an open and liberalized approach to technology regulation, and instead are emphasizing political borders, burdensome regulation, and protectionist trade policies that would extend far beyond their borders. The most pressing example of an overly burdensome regulation that threatens the free flow of information is the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).  The GDPR represents a fundamentally different approach to privacy, inverting the data ownership model that has characterized Internet development to date. While recent discussions about GDPR have focused on the cultural and moral underpinnings of Europe’s approach, as companies in the United States and around the world work to come into compliance and avoid crushing penalties and vague, open-ended legal liability, the impacts on innovation, commerce, and free expression will be substantial.

NTIA … must ensure that the Internet remains free, open, borderless and innovative.  That means both (a) ensuring the continued flow of data, and interoperability of Internet services, across borders and (b) defending the freedom of American citizens and businesses to continue doing what has made the Internet great: experimenting and innovating without having to seek permission, or having to build an elaborate compliance infrastructure for a startup, first….

Unnecessarily prescriptive Internet regulation also harms users by altering, or breaking, the business models that have allowed the Internet economy to thrive. Countries pursuing Internet regulation do not only export their policy choices, they can “harm both the competitiveness of the country implementing the policies and other countries. Every time one country erects barriers to data flows, another country that relies on these data flows is also affected.”  An escalation of barriers to the free flow of data—a digital, global trade war—will harm Internet users everywhere.

Scott Delacourt, Megan Brown, Joan Stewart and Kathleen Scott of Wiley Rein and Fielding, LLP, filed the comments as pro bono counsel for TechFreedom.


Find this release on our website, and share it on Twitter. We can be reached for comment at media@techfreedom.org. See more of our work on GDPR and privacy regulation, including:

  • 2012 Senate testimony of Berin Szoka, on the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing: “The Need for Privacy Protections: Is Industry Self-Regulation Adequate?”
  • 2012 White House testimony of Berin Szoka, on the White House’s Privacy Report.
  • Our statement, “Szoka Cautions NTIA Privacy Multistakeholder Self-Regulatory Process”
  • Our comment with the NTIA on “Multistakeholder Process to Develop Consumer Data Privacy Codes of Conduct.”
  • Tech Policy Podcast #225:  “WHOIS Going to Deal with Cybersecurity – GDPR Edition.”

About TechFreedom:

TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.