What are the effects of the Trump election and the TiSA negotiations on digital communication?

Trump and his loyal supporters opt for America first

Donald Trump will move into the White House as 45th president of the United States in 2017. After his election campaign containing widely reported nationalist, sexist and racist comments, the designated leader of the US has formed his government cabinet. Three nominees strike attention and are worth further consideration:

Michael Flynn, a former general, becomes the National Counselor on Security Issues. He is controversial, because he is alleged to have dubious business relations to Russia and to have made islamophobic comments in the past. He does not need the support of the senate to start his office.
As minister of justice Trump nominated the ultra-conservative Senator Jeff Sessions. He supported Trump from the very beginning. In his position Session will have great influence on how laws are applied and carried out and he advises the president on legal issues or questions.

The Republican Mike Pompeo will become Head of the CIA. He wants to increase America‘s surveillance abilities and is in favour of giving back competences to the NSA such as the limitless gathering of meta data. This became prohibited after Edward Snowden’s revelations. Pompeo even claims the death sentence should be carried out on Snowden.

Looking at these three nominees one could conclude that surveillance carried out by the secret services will increase – all due under the guise of internal security. Even before coming into office one may get the impression that the pressure on companies dealing with and handling huge amounts of personal data grows. Not having updated their so called „Warrant Canary“ the American provider of encrypted email communication „RiseUp“ is likely to have received an order from state authorities to hand over user data – so goes the common interpretation.

A Warrant Canary is a way, in which US service providers of confidential communication signal when they have received secret instructions from state authorities: They regularly announce a hint that they have NOT received such orders. This recurring hint has failed to appear on the “RiseUp” Website so far.

EU standards in data protection are weakened by TiSA

In addition – without public attention until now – the TiSA agreement is being negotiated. It is a treaty of services, that will weaken or even make European data protection obsolete. The agreement is being negotiated by 23 parties amongst them are the US and the EU. The aim of the treaty is to enable more competition in trade of all kinds of services.

Companies will be enabled to offer their services more easily across country boarders. The US Government expects a market for their country worth 600 million dollars. They claim the need for unlimited flows of data. However, this is in contradiction according to EU law. Only recently the American company Whatsapp was prohibited from exchanging user data with their parent company Facebook.
If the agreement was signed, such flows of data would become common practice. Companies could demand data releases, otherwise they would suffer from competitive disadvantage. This way EU data protection standards could be leveraged out or abrogated with laxer US laws being regularly applied.


One cannot help but conclude that subjects such as national security and commercial interests of the US will have even greater impact on the way the rest of the world operates. An ever-increasing number of people and companies are searching for appropriate ways of protecting their data, not just from the bad guys but also from governments. It is in their interest to be in control of their own data – especially in transit from a to b. Software that guarantees secure email transfer and data exchange, will be increasingly sought in the future.

The growing fear of data scrutiny when communicating via the internet could result in the growth of European IT businesses. One question remains though: Are politicians in Brussels aware of that fact while negotiating TiSA on our behalf? It would seem doubtful.