USA Big Tech encouraged to adopt GDPR-style rules

The multinational tech conglomerate, Cisco Systems has urged tech companies in the US to embrace more regulation and to follow the example of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The group’s chief legal and compliance officer, Mark Chandler, has said regulation is now due; his calls add volume to the demands being made on US politicians to increase scrutiny and power over tech companies, against a backdrop of increasing global awareness of the importance of data security.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Chandler expressed Cisco’s desire for the US to bring in a version of the GDPR, stating:

“We believe that the GDPR has worked well and that with a few differences, that is what should be brought in in the US as well.”

The Cisco boss underlined how Europe’s laws have managed to create more freedom and control for users by bringing in enhanced access rights to personal data and by ensuring tech companies become more accountable regarding internal processes, and the way data is collected, stored and shared.

Among GDPR elements that Chandler said he would not like to see in US law, were the rights of data subjects to customise their privacy settings and erase information from search engines.

The Financial Times has reported on how companies in North America are putting pressure on US law makers to pass the country’s first national data privacy law, but worries have been raised over potential financial penalties that may come with the legislation.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella lauded the effects the GDPR is having, stating:

“My own point of view is that it’s a fantastic start in treating privacy as a human right. I hope that in the United States we do something similar, and that the world converges on a common standard.”

Nadella expressed his support for the continued integration of AI, and particularly facial recognition, which he said would change our world for the better so long as stay alert to the technology’s potential to disrupt privacy and fall foul of bias.

Nadella described Microsoft’s work to establish ethical AI usage, before underlining his view that self-regulation would not be enough. “We welcome any regulation that helps that marketplace not be a race to the bottom,” he added.
Just last year, IBM’s chief executive Ginni Rometty said that a “trust crisis” exists between consumers and tech firms which needs to be sorted out. Advocating a “regulatory scalpel, not a sledgehammer”, Rometty recommended a change of mindset would be needed to set the situation on the road to repair without damaging more responsible elements of the data economy.

“Dominant online platforms have more power to shape public opinion than newspapers or the television ever had, yet they face very little regulation or liability,” she added.

Unlike the reticence and pro-self-regulation stance of the likes of Facebook and Google, Apple has established itself as a supporter of data privacy. The firm’s war cry was sent out in October 2018 at an EU data protection conference in Brussels, where Apple CEO Tim Cook praised the GDPR before highlighting how data privacy was “a human right”.

“Our own information – from the everyday to the deeply personal – is being weaponised against us with military efficiency.

“These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled,
synthesised, traded and sold,” Cook said, before proposing the need for “a comprehensive federal privacy law.”

“Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm…we shouldn’t sugar coat the consequences, this is surveillance,” Cook added.

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