It's a big and controversial issue in Europe and the USA. The TTIP covers many sectors of the economy but what is the Transatlantic Trade and Invesment Partnership and is it going to affect your online data security?.
What is the TTIP?
The TTIP is a planned trade agreement between the USA and the European Unions to reduce barriers to trade and increase economic activity between the USA and EU single market. Last year the EU exported almost 311 billion euro worth of goods to the USA and imported almost 205 billion euro worth. The TTIP aims to increase this trade.
The trade deal would require changing EU and USA regulations to make it easier for trade to flow between the USA and Europe. This has a lot of people worried that standards in food productions and elsewhere could be lowered for the benefit of large companies.
Does it include the internet?
E-commerce is a sigificant and growing part of the trade between the USA and Europe as well as the movement of data between companies and consumers. It will certainly feature a lot in the negotiatios and final agreement. A document leaked to the German paper 'Die Zeit' dealing specifically with e-commerce mentioned more liberalisation but lacked details.
Data flow has already been mentioned as an area of negotiation. It's an area that is tricky for politicians considering the NSA affair and the legal problems with data protection when Europeans data is processed by servers in the USA. It leaves a grey area that puts consumers at risk.
What are the risks?
The main fear is that standards will be undermined that consumers will lose out to the interests of companies. European data protection standards could be undermined as data flows between the USA and EU with inadequate or unclear data protection rules. If TTIP increases trade then the sharing of big data will also increase.
Are there any potential benefits?
A final agreement including issues such as data flow and data protection could clarify some of the legal issues in the area. The negotiations will also continue to draw attention to many of the issues in this area and hopefully prompt some action from politicians. It's also possible that the USA will be prompted to improve their data protection laws rather than lowering Europes. At a stretch geo-restrictions between the USA and Europe could be reduced.
Many of these issues won't be finalised in negotiations until the EU has agreed their own new data protection legislation after the data retention act was rejected by the European Court of Justice in 2014.
Is there anything I can do?
If you're an EU or US citizen inform yourself about the TTIP and you can always try to engage with your politicians. You could also get involved with organisations of which there are many in Europe trying to positively influence or outright stop the TTIP.
A simple step to improving your privacy and data security would be to install ZenMate. The simple add-on hides your IP, encrypts you traffic and can also be used for unblocking geo-restricted websites.