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Technology industry groups from around the world are uniting to urge the largest countries to improve privacy and data protection for consumers, and resist the temptation to become more protectionist in their treatment of data that flows across international borders.

The Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) today joined together with similar industry associations in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the European Union and the UK to issue a series of recommendations to the G20 member governments, including the new Trump administration. ITI counts tech giants such as Apple, Adobe, Amazon, Dell, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Yahoo among its members.

“The G20 is a critically important setting for the world’s leading governments to outline approaches to managing 21st century ICT (Information and Communication Technology) policy challenges, combatting protectionism, achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and growing the global economy in ways that benefit all countries and people,” said the trade groups in their joint recommendations.

The recommendations were issued today in advance of an early April meeting in Düsseldorf of G20 ministers responsible for digital issues. They ask G20 leaders to commit their governments to:

  • Promote the principle that “economies should facilitate the free flow of data across borders and refrain from imposing measures requiring local storage.”
  • Acknowledge that privacy “is a fundamental right” and that they additionally commit to pursuing privacy and data protection policies that take input from a broad group of interests within their respective counties.
  • Ensure that the measures taken by governments to enhance cybersecurity reflect the global nature of cyberspace.
  • Resolve outstanding questions of cross-border taxation in a way that involves multiple countries within the G20 “on the basis of the principles of certainty, predictability, and the rule of law.”

The latter point is clearly a not-so-subtle reference to the moves made last August by the European Commission when it alleged that Ireland granted undue tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple over many years – seeking redress from Apple in the form of retroactive tax payments. Apple last week made its counter-arguments in the Official Journal of the European Union.

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