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Weekly News Roundup: China Pushes for Ecommerce Framework; US Government Reopens

A s the world economy holds its breath as the World Trade Organization (WTO) debates incorporating ecommerce regulations, US government employees who have been without pay for five weeks breathe a sigh of relief as the government shutdown temporarily ends.  

1. Will the WTO ever admit ecommerce is a thing?

China joined 75 nations in urging the World Trade Organization (WTO) to develop new rules and regulations for ecommerce. In 2016, the WTO reported that the flourishing industry has a total value of US$27.7 trillion.

Despite this success, the WTO has shied away from deeper conversations about building a new framework, frustrating signatories and proponents of ecommerce. India, the world’s sixth largest economy, has yet to sign the agreement.

2. There’s still hope for the Brexit deal

Last week looked bleak for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal after it lost in the Commons by 432 votes to 202. Now the European Union might forgo some of its “red lines” to help the Brexit deal move along before the March 29 deadline.

The European Union will likely support the backstop, or the open Northern Ireland and Irish border. This should make trade and negotiations for in-house counsel in the two countries easier to facilitate.

3. The US government shutdown is over (sort of)

US President Donald Trump has announced that the government would temporarily reopen until February 15. The decision comes without Congress agreeing to pay US$5 million for the border wall between the United States and Mexico that Trump has been advocating.

Trump has assured that the 800,000 government employees affected by the shutdown will receive backpay “very quickly or as soon as possible.” The announcement came on the 35th day of the government shutdown — the longest in the country’s history.

4. No-fly zone

The impact of the US government shutdown had become increasingly obvious, specifically at short-staffed airports. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has temporarily restricted flights at New York’s LaGuardia airport due to absentee government employees.

Striking is illegal for aviation union members. However, many US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, who have missed two paychecks as a result of the government shutdown, have taken sick days or have even found part-time jobs.

5. The trinity of chat apps

Facebook is developing a project that will integrate messaging services on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — all of which are owned by Facebook. Once the apps are integrated, users on these platforms can communicate with each other.

This move has sparked privacy concerns, as Facebook has been criticized for not being more transparent about selling customer data to advertisers and not doing more to address the alleged foreign efforts to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.

For companies that interact with their customers through these messaging apps (e.g., answering questions about flight information, delayed packages, or health queries), in-house counsel should train staff on how to protect client data on these platforms.

About the Author

Karmen Fox is the web content editor of ACC Docket.

The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.