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The New War in Digital Trade: Data and National Security

Published 21 September 2020

Understand the implications of the US-China digital trade war for bilateral relations, foreign direct investment, and global data regulatory approach. This briefing was the eighth in a series of Hinrich Foundation-sponsored webinar organized by the National Press Foundation.

With the Trump Administration engaged in a legal battle after banning TikTok, the broader questions of the potential dangers of collection of personal and corporate data by Chinese firms or US firms in which Chinese investors own a major stake remain unresolved. Is TikTok’s treasure-trove of personal data any more threatening to national security than what US tech companies already collect – or the hacked data that anyone can buy on the Dark Web?

What are the characteristics that distinguish data that poses a threat to national security from data that poses a privacy threat? Can the US, which focuses on security, and the EU, which focuses on privacy, forge a common regulatory approach?

On 21 September, 2020, this panel of experts explored the new digital trade war between the US and China, including the implications of the precedent of banning foreign companies that have potentially powerful technologies from US markets; the risks of retaliation; the effects on foreign direct investment; and the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Speakers included:

  • Lindsay Gorman, Emerging Technologies Fellow, German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy and consultant, Schmidt Futures
  • Adam Segal is the Ira A. Lipman chair in emerging technologies and national security and director of the Digital and Cyberspace Policy program, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Clete Willems, partner, Akin Gump


This briefing is part of a series of National Press Foundation's online webinars on global trade issues in the era of the coronavirus. Check here for all past briefings. Trainings explored:

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