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US red lines for digital trade with the UK cause alarm

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The US government has published its negotiating objectives for a trade deal with the UK, which include some worrying proposals on digital trade, including a ban on the disclosure of source code and algorithms, and potential restrictions on data protection.

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The US wants to stop the UK government from “mandating the disclosure of computer source code or algorithms”. This is one of the most concerning aspects of the new digital trade agenda, already found in other recent trade agreements, and criticised by groups such as Third World Network. Restricting source code and algorithms is problematic for various reasons. In particular, the UK government has been pioneering open source software, despite some setbacks, and these clauses could be used to challenge any public procurement perceived to give preference to open source.

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