Addressing the challenges for U.S. companies in the globally connected world will mean “engaging in in uncomfortable conversations with our allies in Europe, Asia, and Latin America,” according to National Telecommunications and Information Administration head David J. Redl.
Speaking at a conference on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Going Digital Project today (see separate story), Mr. Redl said, “We need an environment where working across jurisdictions does not require major modifications to a business’ core product or service. We need a common understanding around how countries respect the rights and values of their citizens, whose civic, social, and personal lives are largely digitized.
“In these areas we still have more in common with our European partners than we do differences,” he emphasized.
“For instance, we might disagree with specific provisions in European or Japanese privacy law, but we should be far more concerned with how China and Russia are regulating data processing and storage. It is one thing to argue about the legal bases for data processing in European law or conflicting interpretations from their enforcement authorities. It is another thing entirely when we’re talking about people being stripped of their rights, with no due process, based solely on their interactions with ostensibly private but often state-directed companies,” Mr. Redl said.
“We have trading partners that broadly share democratic and market-based values with which we can work bilaterally. While we might disagree on particular policy approaches to taxation, privacy, or platform liability, there is much more that binds us than divides us,” he added.
“It’s imperative to focus on what we can do, and find the great spaces for agreement that exist between like-minded countries that are willing to work together,” he said.
As one sign of “progress that we can build on,” Mr. Redl pointed to the fact that “in May, the OECD is poised to agree on a new Recommendation on artificial intelligence geared toward building trust in and adoption of its use. This has been a hard fought negotiation for the United States. It has involved a lot of the give-and-take that I think will be necessary to find common ground with countries that share our values.”
In response to a question from the audience, Mr. Redl declined to “get out in front of where the White House is on” the issue of whether there should be changes in section 230 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides Internet intermediaries such as Facebook, Twitter, and Internet services providers a safe harbor from liability for third-party content they host or transmit. —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
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