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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 November 27 - December 3  > Japan-US digital trade agreement will harm human rights protection online: expert
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2019 November 27 - December 3 [ECONOMY]

Japan-US digital trade agreement will harm human rights protection online: expert

November 29, 2019

An international trade expert at a House of Councilors committee meeting on November 28 gave unsworn testimony that the Japan-U.S. digital agreement, if implemented, will do harm to human rights protection online.

The Upper House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense on the day held a session to question unsworn witnesses who are either for or against the bilateral trade deals on agriculture and digital, such as a Tokyo University professor and an NPO activist working for a just international society and economy.

Japanese Communist Party Upper House member Inoue Satoshi brought up the issue of the Japan-U.S. digital trade agreement. Inoue pointed out that the accord contains provisions overall advantageous to Facebook and other companies providing interactive computer services. Inoue asked the co-head of the NPO Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), Uchida Seiko, about a clause in the digital trade agreement which limits and excludes interactive computer service providers from liability for online harms.

Uchida, who is also an international trade specialist, said that in the United States, there is a growing call for imposing on such service providers a certain level of liability in respect to human rights violations caused by user-generated content like child-porn sites. She said that along with a move to amend the relevant domestic law, some U.S. lawmakers began demanding that the exclusion clause be removed from the bilateral agreement.

Pointing out that bilateral agreements which Japan concluded with other countries supersede Japan’s domestic laws, Uchida said that if the Japan-U.S. digital trade deal comes into effect as is, it will probably limit Japan’s options to strengthen rules on cross-border data flow as well as on digital platforms and services.

Past related articles:
> Diet approval bill for Japan-US trade deal passes Lower House committee [November 16, 2019]
> Japan formally signs humiliating trade pact with US [October 11, 2019]

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