Countries all across the globe are working on a series of new trade agreements that could cause the US to lose hold of its most dominant export: big data.
This new global trend of “data localism” affects how companies share and store their data around the world — and it threatens to cost the US close to $400B in annual exports.
“Data localism, you say?”
As of now, there aren’t any major international rules regulating the sale or transfer of data across borders. For the most part, American companies have enjoyed a “free flow” when it comes to selling data and data services abroad.
But in an effort to weed out foreign competitors (mainly the US) in favor of home-grown industries, countries like China, Russia, and Brazil have established rules that require companies to store data on servers inside their borders.
And this has really freaked tech giants out
The big players in data processing — Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and IBM — are not pleased with this “data localism,” and have pushed to legislatively combat it.
Social media companies, who operate on the ethos of a borderless world but also profit handsomely from data exports, have also been vocally opposed to foreign countries establishing their own private data troves.
Now, the government is trying to take action
The Trump administration is seeking to “modernize” 1994’s North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in an effort to prevent foreign markets from requiring that data to be processed and stored within their borders.
Put simply, they argue that without the free-flow of data, a trademark of US innovation and commerce could be severely stifled.