Data Protection in the TPP: More Emphasis on the “Use” Than the “Protection”
It is very significant for the TPP, being a free trade agreement, to have explicit provisions on data protection, if it is ultimately effective. The TPP recognizes the importance of personal data in the digital economy. However, it is a pity that the TPP has provisions on data protection which do not aim at a higher standard among the Parties, as the use of personal data is significantly emphasized over the protection of personal data. It is further disappointing for the TPP to make substantial obligations less obligatory by using the words like ‘should’ and ‘shall endeavor to’. Although the TPP’s fate is still uncertain as a result of President Trump’s decision of withdrawal, its provisions on data protection seem to revive in any future trade agreement which aims to legalize a free trade in data including personal data. In conclusion, it may be understandable that the degree of data protection is not at the same level with the degree of force accorded to the use of personal data in the TPP, as it is not a data protection or privacy agreement per se. Nevertheless, in order to create and further develop the digital economy, data protection should be on the same level as the use or trade in data including personal data.