New Report Charts Path Forward for ICT Policy Cooperation Between U.S., EU, and Canada

June 11, 2018

WASHINGTON—At a time when historic trade alliances between the United States, the European Union, and Canada are coming under intense scrutiny, a new report released today by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the world’s leading think tank for science and technology policy, finds that greater cooperation around information and communications technologies (ICT) would maximize productivity and innovation across economies. With a focus on four key policy areas—intellectual property rights (IPR), data protection, regulatory environment, and support for digital innovation—the encyclopedic report outlines how each government approaches ICT and identifies opportunities for policymakers to promote ICT development and use through greater cooperation.

“There will always be differences in how countries and regions approach digital innovation, but Canada, the EU, and the United States share many of the same goals,” said Nick Wallace, senior analyst with ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation, one of the authors of the report. “By boosting transatlantic cooperation on ICT policy, Canada, the EU, and the United States can address global ICT challenges and support their domestic economies by raising productivity. Transatlantic cooperation will be especially important as all three regions face increasing challenges from ICT competitors in other parts of the world, particularly China.”

To build a strong and competitive environment for ICT development and use, Canada, the EU, and the United States need the right combination of policies, which includes: strong yet flexible IPR laws; interoperable data-protection regimes that enable innovation while also protecting privacy; policies that support digital trade; intergovernmental science and technology cooperation related to digital innovation and research; and robust international cooperation to manage policy differences.

The report offers a series of policy recommendations for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic:

Intellectual Property

  • Protect the free movement of knowledge.
  • Agree on common protections for trade secrets.

Data Protection

  • Adopt data protection rules that reduce barriers to collecting and sharing data while also protecting consumers from harm.
  • Avoid harmful restrictions on artificial intelligence, such as the so-called “right to explanation.”
  • Support the free flow of data by enshrining it in international agreements between governments.
  • Support strong encryption without weakening cybersecurity through mandatory “backdoors.”

Regulatory Environment

  • Establish institutions and agree on rules for resolving conflicts that arise from policy differences between countries.
  • Support free trade in ICT.

Government Support for Digital Innovation

  • Help the market develop voluntary ICT standards to support interoperability.
  • Establish a tripartite partnership for technology research.
  • Revive and revise the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
  • Review major new global technology challenges to prevent unnecessary regulatory divergence.

“International cooperation is essential to creating a strong and competitive ICT environment and driving innovation across the Atlantic,” said Daniel Castro, ITIF Vice President and one of the report’s authors. “The U.S., the EU, and Canada should take the opportunity to forge the path forward for ICT development around the world by rooting policy in common ground.”

Read the report.