This paper argues that if trade policy-makers truly want to achieve data free flow with trust, they must address user concerns beyond privacy. Survey data reveals that users are also anxious about online harassment, malware, censorship and disinformation. The paper focuses on three such problems, specifically, internet shutdowns, censorship and ransomware (a form of malware), each of which can distort trade and make users feel less secure online. Finally, the author concludes that trade policy-makers will need to rethink how they involve the broad public in digital trade policy-making if they want digital trade agreements to facilitate trust.
Trust is important for the success of a wide range of public policies that depend on behavioural responses from the public, leading to broader compliance and faith in regulatory systems. In short, trust is essential to democratic capitalist functioning, both online and off.