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Google Promotes Free Trade On The Internet

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

19 November 2010

Governments should honor existing international obligations including under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement, prevent trade barriers created by information regulation, and develop new international rules that provide enhanced protection against these trade barriers of the 21st century, according to Google.

Google says the transformative economic benefits of the internet are under threat, as increasing numbers of governments move to impose onerous limits on information flow. The international community must take action to ensure the free flow of information online, the company argues.

To realize the full potential of the internet as a global marketplace and platform for innovation, the United States, the European Union, and elsewhere should pursue three steps to break down barriers to free trade and internet commerce, says Google.

The three steps urged by Google are:

  • To focus on and publicly highlight as unfair trade barriers those practices by governments that restrict or disrupt the flow of online information services;
  • To take appropriate action where government restrictions on the free flow of online information violate international trade rules; and
  • To establish new international trade rules under bilateral, regional, and multilateral agreements that provide further assurances in favor of the free flow of information on the internet.

In addition to infringing human rights, Google maintains that governments blocking the free flow of information on the internet are also blocking trade and economic growth. Google points to the tremendous economic and trade benefits delivered by the internet over the last two decades, claiming it has driven record increases in productivity, spurred innovation, created new economies, and fueled international trade, partly because the internet makes geographically distant markets easy to reach.

Google says this engine of economic growth is increasingly coming under attack. According to one study, more than forty governments now engage in broad-scale restriction of online information. Governments are blocking online services, imposing non-transparent regulation, and seeking to incorporate surveillance tools into their internet infrastructure. These are the trade barriers of the 21st century economy, claims Google.

An open internet has been and remains an absolutely critical component of the new information economy’s ability to empower individuals and create shared information markets, claims Google. Closed systems are antithetical to the internet’s success and will significantly disable its potential to support trade and innovation going forward. Google calls these issues challenges, but says they are also an opportunity for governments to align 21st century trade policy with the 21st century economy.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining the new possibilities that offshore e-commerce open up for business, and analysing the offshore jurisdictions that have led the way in offering professional e-commerce regimes for international business, with a particular focus on e-gaming, is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at
TAGS: commerce | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade treaty | agreements | internet | e-commerce | United States | standards | regulation | trade

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