Bloomberg: Tech Liability Shield Has No Place in Trade Deals, Groups Say

May 27, 2021 Media

A coalition of internet accountability groups is warning the Biden administration against including liability protections for tech companies in future trade agreements, saying that could hamstring efforts to hold platforms responsible for user content.

In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Thursday, the organizations said including a legal shield in trade deals like the 2018 U.S.-Mexico-Canada accord “reflects a broad effort by the big tech platforms to use ‘trade negotiations’ to limit domestic policy options.”

The letter was signed by 16 public interest groups focused on issues such as civil rights, democracy and the market power of tech platforms, including Public Citizen, Color of Change and the Center for Digital Democracy. The coalition came together as the advocates observed how a ratified trade deal could bake in — and export — increasingly controversial legal protections for internet companies, said Morgan Harper, a policy director at the American Economic Liberties Project, which also signed the letter.

The groups are “sounding the alarm about this tactic by Big Tech to undermine the inevitability of domestic regulation that’s coming their way,” Harper said. “We expect that this will be a priority for the Biden administration.”