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Exclusive – AFL-CIO wants bigger say in digital trade deals for U.S. workers

David Lauder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration has made digital trade a centerpiece of its trade talks, and the AFL-CIO wants to see how the U.S. Trade Representative’s office can function here. One field has set goals, arguing that those goals are often determined by the big tech companies.

The largest U.S. labor group on Tuesday released a set of principles it says it needs to protect workers, the public’s privacy and the government’s ability to regulate fast-growing industries as USTR negotiates digital trade agreements .

USTR is expected to soon present text on a digital chapter in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations, an economic deal signed by the Biden administration.

USTR Katherine Tai pledges “worker-centred” trade policy, but AFL-CIO says digital trade negotiations often say nothing about labor standards nor the workers who write software or support ne tworks.

“U.S. ‘digital trade’ agreements to date have sought to broaden market access for big tech companies by granting broad digital data and intellectual property rights while severely restricting government (both parties) the ability of the United States and our trading partners) to respond to economic transformation,” the AFL-CIO said in its plan.

The core of the group’s demands involves ensuring digital trade The AFL-CIO said the agreement was subject to strict and enforceable labor standards, preventing “exploitative” use of workers who were often denied benefits and endured harsh working conditions. “gig” workers, and prevent the offshoring of back office or telemedicine

But the AFL-CIO’s request also opposes a key component of the recent U.S. trade deal that prohibits countries from enforcing “data localization ” policy to require data to be stored locally. The renegotiated NAFTA that came into effect on 2020 includes such provisions, and the USTR has in recent years sparred with countries including India over plans for such a policy, arguing that the U.S.-based A data platform should be free to run anywhere in the world.

The AFL-CIO said that not all data is created equal and that in some cases, the government should have the ability to require individuals’ sensitive personal information, such as medical or biometric data, to be kept in-ensure Safety.

Digital Economy Rules

These principles also require the negotiation of strong safeguards against the misappropriation of digital content.

“Companies should not dictate the rules of the global digital economy without regard for working people,” AFL-CIO Chair Liz Shuler said in a statement. “Their drive to monetize data often violates important privacy rights and exploits workers.”

Additional AFL-CIO demands for digital trade negotiations include:

– Require governments to enact strong policies to protect personal data, rather than the largely voluntary “self-regulation” model that has so far proven inadequate.

– Promote meaningful oversight of source code and algorithms to ensure compliance with labor laws. Labor groups say automated employee monitoring systems and other AI-enabled tools undermine workers’ rights and contribute to discriminate.

– Address “abusive” employment practices in the tech sector to discourage the use of contractors and require companies to eliminate labor abuse in their own operations and supply chains.

– Protect and promote the economic security of America’s creative professionals, including film, aggressively address the theft or unauthorized use of copyrighted content on digital platforms questions to help those working in the television and music industries.

– Address the rise of state and private actor cybercrime by calling for improved cybersecurity standards and a common law enforcement agenda.



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