The impact of a shift in US trade policy on data privacy and protection and related issues is not altogether clear.

Nevertheless, the overhaul of NAFTA or the abandonment of TPP, both steps President-elect Trump has pledged to take, could conceivably lead countries to implement rules under the guise or justification of data protection or privacy but with an underlying intent and/or practical effect to restrict trade with the United States.

For example, data localization rules, restrictions on cross-border transfers of personal data or rules with regard to mandatory disclosures of source code or other intellectual property could in practice significantly impact commerce that relies on the free or nearly free flow of data. Similarly, this shift could impact countries´ willingness to cooperate with the United States on important issues such as cybersecurity and related cyber threats, something that is expressly called for under the TPP and something that is critically important to combatting a problem that is essentially global in nature.

Therefore, as the new US administration takes shape, US companies will need to watch for these types of changes and build flexibility into their privacy programs to account for the potential for greater regulation and restrictions and less consistency across different countries.