White House Reportedly Interested in Developing ‘Counter-Weight’ to Europe’s GDPR Privacy Laws
Last month, Europe implemented its General Data Protection Regulation in an effort to protect the data of all individuals within the European Union, with some aspects affecting users worldwide. According to a new report by Axios, the White House is “in the early stages” of figuring out what a federal approach to online data privacy would look like in the United States.
So far, special assistant to President Trump on tech, telecom, and cyber policy Gail Slater has met with industry groups about the issue. Discussions include possible “guardrails” for the use of personal data online, according to a few sources familiar with the talks. Furthermore, Slater has talked about the implementation of GDPR with Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents tech companies like Apple and Google.
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Slater and the Trump administration have reportedly referred to the U.S. proposal as a “counter-weight to GDPR,” aimed at ensuring that the European law doesn’t become the global standard of online privacy, sources said. Still, Slater also stated that there is no desire to create a “U.S. clone” of the European rules.
Axios theorized that one possible outcome from the conversations could be an executive order that leads to the development of a privacy framework for U.S. citizens.
One option is an executive order directing one or more agencies to develop a privacy framework. That could direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an arm of the Commerce Department, to work with industry and other experts to come up with guidelines, according to two sources.
An executive order could also kick off a public-private partnership to lay out voluntary privacy best practices, which could become de-facto standards, according to sources.
News about the potential new privacy practices comes as “pressure” is being placed on lawmakers in the U.S., following high-profile data breaches like the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. Beginning with reports in March, it was discovered that Facebook was connected with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which itself was tied to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Using a survey app called “This Is Your Digital Life,” the firm secretly amassed data from millions of Facebook users that targeted and attempted to sway votes in the election.
Slater claimed that “giving consumers more control over their data” and “more access to their data” are high marks of the GDPR, suggesting these aspects would be emphasized in the U.S. law.
“We’re talking through what, if anything, the administration could and should be doing” on privacy, Slater said at a conference hosted last month by the National Venture Capital Association
In the wake of GDPR, Apple itself launched a new Data & Privacy website that lets users download all of the data associated with their Apple ID. While the feature was limited to Apple accounts registered in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland at launch, Apple said it will roll out the service worldwide “in the coming months.”
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