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Blog Category: Office of General Counsel

General Counsel Kerry Leads Administration Efforts to Support Long-Term Economic Growth in Iraq

General Counsel Kerry standing a podium

Guest blog post by Cameron F. Kerry, Department of Commerce General Counsel

On June 28, 2004, Iraq's first democratically elected government assumed full sovereign authority. Eight years later, I joined Iraqi counterparts to discuss Iraq's next great challenge: integrating itself into the world economy. Overcoming this challenge is a critical step in Iraq's transition since, as President Obama has noted, “Iraq is assuming its rightful place among the community of nations.”

The Department of Commerce mission in Iraq is to help the country assume this role while working to expand and facilitate increased U.S. business opportunities. As part of this mission, I had the honor of co-hosting two conferences focused on Iraq’s economic growth strategy. Iraq faces the challenge of generating trade and investment at the same time as managing the expansion of its resource wealth to ensure economic diversification. While these challenges are significant, I was encouraged by the universal agreement between panelists, government officials, and private sector representatives that these challenges can be overcome by the adoption of a commercial law framework that emphasizes predictability, transparency, and economic security.

The first of these conferences, co-hosted by Iraq’s Minister of Finance Rafi al-Issawi, brought together experts from U.S., multilateral, and private institutions to discuss with Iraqi counterparts how under-developed commercial law and financial mechanisms can act as barriers to trade and investment. A common theme in the two days of discussion was how the rule of law is vital to a welcoming economic environment in Iraq in which U.S. and Iraqi businesses can predict and plan their investments, purchases, and sales with greater certainty.

GC Kerry discusses the US approach to privacy at an American Chamber of Commerce event in Italy

Panel at American Chamber of Commerce event in Italy

On June 21, 2012, General Counsel Kerry attended a privacy event in Italy -- Data Protection and Privacy Regulation: What Impact on Businesses and Consumers?

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General Counsel Kerry Travels to the EU to Discuss US-EU Commercial Data Privacy Efforts

On June 20, General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry arrived in Rome, Italy for the second leg of his trip to Europe to engage with senior government and private sector officials on consumer data privacy.  As President Obama said in the Administration’s policy blueprint, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy (Privacy Blueprint), “[n]ever has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones.”  The Commerce Department is committed to protecting consumer privacy while encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship, and supporting jobs and growth.

Office of Chief Counsel for Industry and Security Helps BIS Secure $1.75 Million Enforcement Settlement

On May 24, 2012, the Office of Chief Counsel for Industry and Security (OCC/IS) assisted the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in reaching a settlement agreement under which Ericsson de Panama, S.A. agreed to pay $1.75 million to address 262 violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  BIS charged Ericsson de Panama with implementing a scheme to evade the EAR over a multi-year period, with regard to telecommunications equipment owned by the Cuban Government.  The equipment was shipped to Panama, where it was repackaged to conceal its Cuban markings, sent with falsified paperwork to the United States for repair or replacement, and then exported back to Cuba via transshipment through Panama.  The equipment involved is controlled under the EAR for national security, anti-terrorism, encryption, and sanctions reasons.  The settlement also requires an external audit of all 2012 transactions involving items subject to the EAR that are exported or re-exported to Cuban customers by Ericsson de Panama or any of its corporate affiliates. 

This settlement represents the latest in BIS’s enforcement efforts to ensure the integrity of the export control system.  BIS plays an integral part in advancing the nation’s security, foreign policy, and economic interests, and investigations and settlements like this one uphold this vital mission.  OCC/IS represents and supports BIS in all administrative enforcement matters. 

Guidance Published on Implementation of Administration Policy on Scientific Integrity

On March 30, 2012 General Counsel Kerry updated prior memoranda implementing the Administration Policy on Scientific Integrity.  The update provides additional guidance consistent with the policy recommendations of Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), who issued an Administration policy on scientific integrity, implementing a Presidential memorandum of March 9, 2009.  In particular, the memorandum promotes the accurate and clear presentation of scientific and technological information to the public and further supports the professional development of Department personnel.  This memorandum establishes policy directives for the Department of Commerce to ensure the highest integrity of science and scientific products developed and utilized by the Department and its bureaus.  The updated memorandum and the December 6th and June 15th memoranda are attached below.

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General Counsel Kerry delivers remarks at Suffolk University’s 2012 Global Sustainability Conference “Why Global Bribery Is Not A Market Entry Strategy: Corruption In The Global Marketplace.”

Today, General Counsel Kerry delivered remarks on Department of Commerce efforts to level the playing field for American businesses by working with international partners to implement anticorruption and anti-bribery measures.  The remarks were delivered at Suffolk University at the Center for Global Business Ethics and Law 2012 Global Sustainability Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.  General Counsel Kerry's speech highlighted that “fighting corruption is a priority for the United States Government.  We have been working with other countries to encourage them to join us in the fight – and our work is bearing fruit.  This Administration is dedicated to striking the right balance between fostering commerce and promoting good conduct by the business community. I don’t see this as a trade-off. I think we can have both, and that we should have both.” 

The Department of Commerce remains committed to fostering economic growth and job creation both at home and abroad, and efforts to encourage anticorruption measures throughout the world provide a more open, transparent, and lucrative business environment both for US businesses and international partners.

CLDP's 20th Anniversary Event

GC Kerry moderating a discussion at the CLDP 20th Anniversary Event

The Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) was created in February, 1992 and on February 23, 2012, the Office of the General Counsel hosted an event to thank the institutions and the individuals who created CLDP and/or helped it grow, and to reflect on lessons learned. General Counsel Kerry presented awards to several USG officials and private sector experts who have made important contributions to CLDP programs and to the strengthening of the rule of law worldwide.

In a discussion moderated by General Counsel Cameron F. Kerry, Judge Bernice B. Donald from the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, and Judge Delissa Ridgway from the US Court of International Trade, reflected on their experiences doing work for CLDP in many countries over the years. Both judges concluded that the judicial capacity building programs conducted by CLDP have resulted in two significant changes: foreign judges now realize that they can play a significant role in the economic development of their countries; they have now the expertise and the confidence to help bring about the judicial environment, adapted to their country’s specific context, that are conducive to foreign investment and trade.

The program also featured remarks by Commerce Secretary Bryson on the importance of a modern and fair commercial law environment for US firms that export or invest overseas, by Ambassador William Taylor, Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions at the US Department of State, on CLDP’s ability to respond promptly to State’s priorities for technical assistance in commercial law, and by Linda Wells, founder of CLDP, on the genesis and growth of the program.

General Counsel Kerry Amplifies President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Protection Message in Europe

by Cameron F. Kerry

As co-chair of the National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy, I am proud to have worked on the Obama administration’s comprehensive blueprint to improve consumer privacy protections, the "Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy" (PDF).  As the president stated in the report, “we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value.  It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”

This is the message I took to European lawmakers, officials, and businesses about the administration’s privacy policy framework. Central to the framework is the tenet that consumers who have confidence their privacy is respected are more likely to express themselves online, engage in commercial activity, and form social connections on the Internet. Consumer trust is essential for a strong digital economy, which in turn provides a platform for greater innovation and job creation.

In today’s Internet age, our world is no longer easily defined by national borders.  Information flows around the world as companies seek to meet the demands of international customers and individuals share their lives and experiences globally. Finding ways to protect personal information while facilitating cross-border data flows is a central aim of the administration’s privacy blueprint.

Over the course of my meetings in Europe, I talked about the president’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and our commitment to promote the free flow of information by fostering the interoperability of international privacy frameworks. I discussed the importance of building on tools such as the EU-US Safe Harbor Framework that have helped to protect consumer information while facilitating international trade.

I look forward to continuing our work at the Department of Commerce to implement the administration’s privacy blueprint. Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration released a request for comments as it prepares to begin convening stakeholders to develop codes of conduct based on the Consumer Bill of Rights, and on March 19 the EU's Justice Directorate General will come to Washington, D.C. to discuss the Safe Harbor Framework and other tools for the global flow of information.

Guidance Published on Implementation of Administration Policy on Scientific Integrity

On December 16, 2011 General Counsel Kerry updated the June 15th memorandum implementing the Administration Policy on Scientific Integrity.  The update provides additional guidance consistent with the policy recommendations of Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), who issued an Administration policy on scientific integrity, implementing a Presidential memorandum of March 9, 2009.  In particular, the memorandum provides additional direction on federal advisory committees and expands upon the Department's support for scientists and engineers to participate and provide leadership in scientific and professional organizations.  This memorandum establishes policy directives for the Department of Commerce to ensure the highest integrity of science and scientific products developed and utilized by the Department and its bureaus.  The updated memorandum and the June 15th memorandum are attached below.

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