U.S. Revises Position on Key Digital Trade Rules




On Friday, November 17, WITA hosted a webinar to discuss the implications of the U.S. decisions to remove its support for proposals related to data flows, data localization, and source code in negotiations at the WTO, and what it might mean for digital trade and governance.


Featured Speakers:

Eric Adams, Founder and CEO, Dog & Whistle

Christine Bannan, U.S. Public Policy Manager, Proton

Sean Heather, Senior Vice President, International Regulatory Affairs & Antitrust, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Melinda St. Louis, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Moderator: Josh Meltzer, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution; Governing Digital Trade and Data Flows Expert, PolicyWare. Josh is the author of the recently released paper Toward international cooperation on foundational AI models.


Speaker Biographies:

Eric Adams is the founder of Dog & Whistle, a trailblazing pet nutrition company committed to reducing food waste and transforming the pet food industry. With a culinary background forged in the vibrant kitchens of Las Vegas, Eric combines his expertise with a passion for sustainability to create innovative, upcycled pet food solutions. A dedicated advocate for responsible pet nutrition, he leads Dog & Whistle in its mission to improve the health of pets while making a positive impact on the planet.

Christine Bannan is U.S. Public Policy Manager at Proton, the technology company offering a suite of privacy tools and most known for Proton Mail, the world’s largest end-to-end encrypted email service. She advocates for policies that protect user privacy and security and create competitive digital markets. Previously she worked as Policy Counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute and Consumer Protection Counsel at EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center) where she advocated for comprehensive privacy legislation. She received her J.D. from Notre Dame Law School and B.A. from College of the Holy Cross.

Dr. Josh Meltzer is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., where his research focuses on how data flows enable digital trade and  emerging technologies such as AI, and the trade law and regulatory implications of cross-border data flows, including for privacy and cybersecurity. At Brookings, Meltzer leads the Digital Economy and Trade Project and co-leads the Forum on Cooperation in AI. Meltzer has testified before the U.S. Congress, the U.S. International Trade Commission and the European Parliament. He has been an expert witness in the Schremss II litigation in the EU and a consultant to the World Bank on trade and privacy matters. He is a member of Australia’s National Data Advisory Council and National AI Action Programs Committee. Meltzer teaches digital trade law at Melbourne University and at the University of Toronto, where he is an adjunct professor. Meltzer also teaches ecommerce and digital trade at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office diplomatic academy. Additional academic appointments have included as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies where he taught international trade and at McGill University.  Before joining Brookings, Meltzer was posted as a diplomat at the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. and prior to that he was an international trade negotiator in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Meltzer regularly appears in print and news media, including the Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Bloomberg, MSNBC, CBS, Fox, the Asahi Shimbun and China Daily. Meltzer holds an S.J.D. and LL.M. from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor and law and commerce degrees from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. 

Melinda St. Louis is the Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. Since working alongside labor unions and farmer organizations in Nicaragua fighting for fair trade policies more than two decades ago, St. Louis has developed deep expertise in trade and globalization issues and fought for progressive alternatives to corporate globalization that benefit people and the planet. She provides expert analysis of technical trade agreement provisions and implications for domestic policymaking to Congress and high-level government officials, the press, and civil society partners in the U.S. and around the globe and has helped lead successful campaigns to stop the corporate agenda of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, advance official discussions at the World Trade Organization about financial regulation, and support governments exiting from harmful investment treaties. She is a committed coalition builder, nurturing numerous global South-North coalitions, as well as broad and deep coalitions across the U.S., working cross-culturally to build trust, plan together, and implement coordinated strategic actions to challenge corporate power.

She is available to discuss the impact of trade and investment agreements on wide-ranging domestic issues, including medicine pricing, financial deregulation, human rights, workers’ rights, environmental protection, and food safety. Prior to her current position at Public Citizen, she designed and led the organization’s Medicare for All campaign and directed international campaigning at Global Trade Watch. Before joining Public Citizen, she was policy director at the Jubilee USA Network, leading faith-based efforts to cancel debt and reform international financial institutions, and executive director of Witness for Peace, where she led efforts to reform U.S. economic, military and immigration policy toward Latin America. She earned an M.P.P. in international policy and development from Georgetown University and a B.A. in international politics and Spanish at Penn State University, where she graduated at the top of her class.

She has appeared or been quoted in dozens of U.S. and international television, radio, and print media outlets.

Sean Heather is Senior Vice President for International Regulatory Affairs and Antitrust at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He leads the Chamber’s Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation (GRC), which seeks to align trade, regulatory, and competition policy in support of open and competitive markets, and oversees the organization’s antitrust policy on behalf of its members.

On the international level, Heather directs policy related to data governance, cross-border data flows, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and other emerging regulatory frameworks related to the digital transformation of the economy. His efforts focus on advancing sound regulatory practices as the foundation of better regulation and cooperation across jurisdictions. In addition, he is responsible for policy related to foreign direct investment and investment screening.

Heather has made significant contributions to update trade disciplines that address issues ranging from digital trade and regulatory cooperation to competition policy and state-owned enterprises.

Heather has held a variety of positions during his long career at the Chamber. He served in the Congressional and Public Affairs Division and was head of the Chamber’s regional office in Chicago.

Before joining the Chamber, Heather worked for the Illinois comptroller and with several political campaigns across the state. He holds an undergraduate degree and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois.