Legal Issues Concerning Internet Regulations in the International Trade Regime


Sun Nanxiang, Legal Issues concerning Internet Regulations in the International Trade Regime, Beijing: Law Press China, 2018.

Although Internet technology is neutral concept, it is not rational and could pose serious threats to national security and public morale. Cyberspace cannot be exempted from the jurisdiction of national sovereign. In practice, Internet regulatory measures adopted by states often display obvious characteristic of exterritoriality and pose challenges to free trade. Regulation of the Internet may lead to obstacles to the trade in goods or service, mainly manifested in the form of non-tarriff barriers and realized by means of violation of the obligation of non-discrimination or due process. If an Internet regulatory measure violates WTO obligation, the state taking such measure can invoke the general exceptions clause or security exception clause to prove the legitimacy of such trade measure. Internet regulation touches upon such core interests as national security, public morale, and protection of culture. For example, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade strikes a balance between free trade and public morale, human health and other interests through general exceptions clauses. In the concrete application, Internet regulatory measures should meet the requirements of legitimacy, necessity, and procedural justice. The US and European countries have expressed concerns over the Internet regulatory measures taken by China at the WTO, China-U.S. Joint Economic Committee, and on other occassions. This book, on the basis of defining the trade barriers posed by Internet regulatory measures and the applicability of exceptions clauses, holds that the Internet regulatory measures taken by China are in compliance with WTO rules. The freedom of cyberspace will continue to improve in China in the future. In the future, China should establish the basic value orientation of the freedom of Internet trade and implement the strategy of open digital conomy. Meanwhile, as a responsible world power, China should protect the national, public and private interests in cyberspace in a way compatible with WTO rules and take the lead in the contruction of cyber-community with shared future of mankind.