Comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission Regarding Foreign Censorship and Its Impact on U.S. Businesses

Nigel Cory August 9, 2021
August 9, 2021

Censorship is becoming a growing barrier to trade as countries around the world enact overly restrictive and discriminatory laws and regulations around digital content they identify as “objectionable.” For the United States, a lot is at stake. The United States is a world leader in both the broad set of services that make up the global digital economy and the creative sectors that make movies, TV shows, video games, e-books, and other content.

The focus of the USITC’s investigation should be government action. Trade policy targets policies and practices that act as a barrier to trade. Whether individuals and firms create content (or not) and engage online is obviously related to the impact of censorship, but from a trade policy perspective, what matters are the laws, regulations, and practices that affect trade.

This post-testimony written submission highlights key forms of censorship as a non-tariff barrier (NTB) to trade, ideas for an econometric methodology to identify such policies and estimate the impact, country and sectoral case studies, and details about the harms caused by censorship as an NTB.