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Canada: Did the new NAFTA sign away our digital future?

Halifax, Nova Scotia, 18 June 2008
Halifax, Nova Scotia, 18 June 2008

Dennis Jarvis via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

This statement was originally published on openmedia.org on 22 October 2018.

Tamir Israel from the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and our Executive Director, Laura Tribe, discuss the new NAFTA's damage to Canada's digital ecosystem.

As Canada claims victory for salvaging North American free trade, the true cost of capitulating to the United States' blustering may be too high to warrant celebration. The long-term harms to digital rights and innovation policy that will flow from NAFTA 2.0 - officially the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) - are difficult to fully predict but unquestionably serious.

Setting digital policy in trade agreements is a bad idea. Agreements develop in a highly secretive environment that excludes critical participation of public interest stakeholders. They are also inflexible, requiring difficult tradeoffs and protracted, multilateral negotiations for even minor amendments - a persistent barrier to implementing the periodic and necessary changes that ensure laws and policies keep up with the rapid pace of innovation.

Against this backdrop, NAFTA 2.0 commits Canada to damaging digital policies, undermining ongoing national policy debates that will have longstanding negative implications for innovation and digital rights.

Read the rest of the statement on the Ottawa Citizen site.

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