WASHINGTON, April 4 The United States on Friday
criticized proposals to build a European communication network
to avoid emails and other data passing through the United
States, warning that such rules could breach international trade
In its annual review of telecommunications trade barriers,
the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said impediments to
cross-border data flows were a serious and growing concern.
It was closely watching new laws in Turkey that led to the
blocking of websites and restrictions on personal data, as well
as calls in Europe for a local communications network following
revelations last year about U.S. digital eavesdropping and
"Recent proposals from countries within the European Union
to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a 'Schengen
cloud' by advocates) or to create national-only electronic
networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or
discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are
directly offering network services, or dependent on them," the
USTR said in the report.
Germany and France have been discussing ways to build a
European network to keep data secure after the U.S. spying
scandal. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was
reportedly monitored by American spies.
The USTR said proposals by Germany's state-backed Deutsche
Telekom to bypass the United States were "draconian"
and likely aimed at giving European companies an advantage over
their U.S. counterparts.
Deutsche Telekom has suggested laws to stop data traveling
within continental Europe being routed via Asia or the United
States and scrapping the Safe Harbor agreement that allows U.S.
companies with European-level privacy standards access to
"Any mandatory intra-EU routing may raise questions with
respect to compliance with the EU's trade obligations with
respect to Internet-enabled services," the USTR said.
"Accordingly, USTR will be carefully monitoring the development
of any such proposals."
U.S. tech companies, the leaders in an e-commerce
marketplace estimated to be worth up to $8 trillion a year, have
urged the White House to undertake reforms to calm privacy
concerns and fend off digital protectionism.
In the report, the USTR also criticized restrictions on
Internet telephony in India and China, foreign investment limits
in countries, including China, and efforts to increase the rates
U.S. telecommunications operators must pay in order to connect
long-distance calls in Pakistan, Fiji, Tonga and Uganda.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Dan Grebler)