Chicago Journal of International Law


Tim WuFollow


In Section I of this Article, I provide an introduction to regulation and problems of trade in services and illustrate how the basic GATS framework extends to cover regulation of Internet services. Section II discusses two short studies that highlight these problems of trade in information services. China, one of the world's most comprehensive Internet regulators, makes for an interesting case because as a condition to accession to the WTO, it agreed to what have been called "radical" reforms of its service practices. Yet at the same time, China is among the world's more active filterers of Internet services. As we shall see, these two positions are in tension, and while WTO law leaves much room for exceptions, some of China's restrictions may have trouble being justified under the GATS. The second study is of Voice-over-IP services. Companies like the well- known "Skype" offer free voice telephone services to anyone with an Internet connection. As a consequence, in many instances incumbent telephony carriers, often state-owned, have a strong competitive interest in preventing VoIP from reaching their citizens. These instances of Skype-blocking in several countries raise interesting trade-in-services issues.