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Do Surveillance Laws Impact Trade and the Economy

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With the growth of tech, monitoring has become almost impossible. There is always a way around the system that can be accessed via correct tools. Numerous documentaries and experts have made us conscious of our online presence but the problem is not just confined to personal data. On the national and then consequently, international level, governments take actions to regulate the content and put surveillance on the data being transferred or used in an individual capacity. 

 

For instance, the Australian parliament passed the “TOLA Act” in 2018 and ensured that the powers of their officials expanded to digital data protections. This means that they could not only keep a check on the citizens but also effectively alter the information as they deemed fit. This sounds quite dystopian on its own but what are the implications of such surveillance laws on the economy and especially the business owners who operate in our Chinese B2B Platform is something that should be common knowledge. 

The impact on the finances

Laws tend to have a ripple effect. When one country, especially one that holds an important position in the global market, takes such initiatives, it encourages other regions to do the same, often without any permission from the concerned parties. With Australia’s TOLA Act, the damages in the economy were quite apparent. The discussion this legislation entailed was that such a decision goes beyond the boundaries of Australia as other countries might pass similar laws and misuse them for their advantage. 

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The potential harm to businesses

Lawmakers argue that the policy of surveillance by the government can have long-term outcomes. Countries and businesses that operate in a global market decide the trends of the market. When such regulations are imposed on a national level, it discourages other companies to invest in that particular region due to strict rules of monitoring. Often, the problem of limiting freedom of speech has entered this discussion- like in China’s case, a socially capitalist country that has its own version of every social media site. In such countries, the flow of foreign business is light and the market for local ventures discourages high quality. 

 

Trade relations are jeopardized 

The foreign policy of any country that takes such initiatives often has to risk their trade relations with other countries. Sometimes, sanctions by the United Nations and local authorities are placed that results in the loss of imports and exports. Now you might think that this halt in trade could establish a competitive local market. However, this is not always the case. For instance, if you are a country that largely relies on the export of primary goods in exchange for finished products, you will experience a trade deficit. The tech companies would not be able to work in the cities and as a result, there would be a shortage of supplies. 

Cybersecurity is compromised

Countries that put surveillance on businesses and individuals have resulted in some serious damage to internet security. They hire tech professionals to make multiple backdoors and create loopholes in every system to help with their monitoring. On the other hand, most of the information they collect is quite useless so it eventually leads to stockpiling instead of responsible handling of the sensitive data. 

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How can it be countered?

Work on the encryption of data

Tech giants of Silicon Valley, Facebook, and Microsoft are always under fire for selling the data to the government. These companies hold a lot of credibility for aspiring businesses and therefore, they need to spread awareness and make sure the user data is protected by law. Instead of allowing the easy invasion of privacy, a network of firewalls should be built so that there is a clear boundary between public and private information. 

 

Sign clauses for the Internet Freedom

Most organizations in the international pool commit to the Internet Freedom agenda that stresses the importance of freedom of speech. It emphasizes that only acts labeled as hate or violent speech by individual governments should be monitored. Similarly, only product or trade violations that are directly listed by the country should be monitored. Otherwise, the market needs to operate on its own and not be questioned for its data.

Software should be regularly checked for bugs

Hardware and software devices used by tech companies should be surveillance-free and the equipment should be checked to make sure the governments have not installed any surveillance backdoors to undermine security. Furthermore, tech platforms should campaign for each other if a company is being unnecessarily interrogated by a particular country. 

 

Avoid stockpiling

Like we mentioned above, most of the data accumulated by countries is not even relevant. It is the user information of every individual who is using the platform. Therefore, instead of stockpiling, eliminating security glitches should be the priority of the governments. Experts suggest that when you put surveillance on companies, your own progress can very well be monitored by any other agency that has managed to access the same backdoor. 

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Have clear policies

Sometimes, legislation regarding surveillance is not explicitly passed. The government uses the advantage of vague policies in order to avoid the consequences. Therefore, when tech companies invest in any country, the laws regarding monitoring should be clear. If there is any loophole that you think can be used to the government’s advantage, point it out there and then.

 

So, these are the impacts of putting government surveillance over any foreign entity. It limits trade, damages finances, and also risks the reputation in the global market.

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