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Global Semiconductor Industry Urges Governments to Prevent Restrictions on Encryption Technology

Posted by Devi Keller, Director, Global Policy on Oct 15, 2014 10:00:00 AM

This week, semiconductor industry representatives from around the world will meet in Fukuoka, Japan to deliver recommendations to global governments on a range of trade issues at the 15th annual Governments/Authorities Meeting on Semiconductors (GAMS). 

GAMS is comprised of government officials and authorities from China, Chinese Taipei, the European Union, Japan, Korea and the United States who meet annually to work with industry leaders to address issues of global importance to the semiconductor industry. GAMS is unique to the semiconductor industry; no other industry has a similar mechanism for bringing together industry and government leaders from across the globe to promote fair trade practices and open competition.

One of the top priorities for industry leaders at this year’s meeting is to urge government representatives to prevent restrictions on the import, use or sale of commercial products containing encryption. Such restrictions threaten to severely undercut global trade of semiconductors and other information communication technology (ICT) products.

We encounter encryption technology every day, sometimes without even thinking about it. It’s used in websites to safeguard financial information while shopping or banking online; in ATMs and smart cards to authenticate transactions; in mobile phones and other wireless devices to ensure privacy of communications; in medical applications to protect sensitive personal information; and even in car keys and garage door openers to prevent against unauthorized access. In fact, encryption is found in nearly all ICT products. Semiconductors, which provide data processing and storage, are the key device that enables encryption in these products.

Until recently, global policies have rightly avoided restrictions on the importation, sale and use of encryption technology in order to promote trade, security and interoperability.  Interoperability is paramount in the ICT technology industry because of the global supply chain.  Unfortunately, several governments – including China, Vietnam, India, and Russia – recently have implemented or considered new regulations on commercial products with encryption. The proliferation of such restrictions increases consumer costs, limits choice and innovation, and can delay market entry for cutting edge products,  resulting in the potential loss of many billions of dollars in global trade of encryption-enabled ICT products.

That is why SIA has joined with semiconductor leaders from around the world to strengthen rules to prevent unnecessary restrictions on the global trade of encryption technology.  The World Semiconductor Council – comprised of the semiconductor industries in China, Chinese Taipei, the EU, Korea, Japan, and the U.S. – has developed a set of Encryption Principles that form the basis of the encryption provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement currently under negotiation. These principles were also proposed by SIA and the SIA in Europe to our respective governments for consideration in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

At this week’s meeting, SIA and other global industry leaders will continue to urge government leaders to prevent restrictions on encryption technology. Doing so would promote economic competitiveness and security, while also ensuring consumer access to the most secure and innovative products around the world.

Topics: trade, encryption, WSC