Feeds

US Trade Rep criticises tech trade barriers in Oz, NZ

Wary of telecoms, cloud, patent and copyright rules

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Australia and New Zealand have come under criticism from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) over a raft of tech issues.

In its latest 420-page National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, the USTR expresses concerns at Australia’s National Broadband Network, and government concerns at offshore storage of personal data; while New Zealand is in the crosshairs for legislation currently before parliament that would ban software patents.

While the USTR recognizes that the NBN in Australia will create “improve the non-discriminatory access to network services”, it remains critical of foreign investment limits on the incumbent carrier, Telstra.

Of greater concern, however, is that Australian government agencies are taking a wary approach to cloud computing. The USTR singles out the Department of Defence, the National Archives, the Australian Government Information Management Office, and Victoria’s state Privacy Commissioner, all of which have at various times sent “negative messages” about cloud computing services.

The offshore hosting debate in Australia centers on two concerns: that cloud providers in other jurisdictions may accept lesser privacy and security controls than would be required in Australia; and that the data may become subject to laws in other jurisdictions. The USTR says the notion that data may be “scrutinized by foreign governments” appears “based on misinterpretation of … the Patriot Act and regulatory requirements”.

In particular, the USTR dislikes Australia’s proposed implementation of e-health, saying that legislation requiring onshore storage of citizens’ personally-controlled electronic health records (PCEHRs) “would pose a significant trade barrier for US information technology companies with data centers located in the United States or anywhere else outside of Australia”.

The legislation’s explanatory memorandum, it should be noted, doesn’t single out America, nor does it raise government snooping as the main concern. Rather, it notes that if PCEHRs are stored outside Australia, “very few effective enforcement options would be available if that information were to be misused or mishandled”.

Criticism of New Zealand is based on that country’s proposed laws to forbid software patents, and on the idea that rights-holders should have to help pay for the cost of pursuing alleged infringers through ISPs.

Regarding the proposed patent law, which seems stalled in parliament (as noted by Stuff.co.nz, it has been awaiting its second reading in parliament for more than a year), the USTR says the clause excluding software “departs from patent eligibility standards in other developed economies”.

The Kiwis also suffer the withering slap of the USTR’s censure for requiring rights-holders to contribute $NZ25 to issue an infringement notice under that country’s Internet file-sharing laws, a cost which it says “has deterred some rights holders from using the system”. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know
What do you mean, we've ditched Redmond in favour of IBM?!
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
US Social Security 'wasted $300 million on an IT BOONDOGGLE'
Scrutiny committee bods probe derailed database project
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves
Big Content could get the right to order ISPs to stop traffic
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.