New US privacy law won’t copy European regime

WASHINGTON (AP) – One of the European officials in charge of a tough data privacy law said legislation now poised to emerge in the United States (US) won’t be a copy of the European Union’s (EU) regime and will reflect American cultural values.

EU’s Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova also said on Friday she assured US tech industry executives during a visit to Washington that the EU’s sweeping “privacy shield” law will be “future-proof” and won’t hinder innovations such as the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

Jourova met with Trump administration officials and US lawmakers, making the case that now that Europe has acted, the US must move to protect the privacy of consumers’ data.

“I would like to see the law in the United States as soon as possible,” she told reporters.

She is modestly optimistic that legislation will be enacted by Congress and signed into law, Jourova said.

Her visit came as momentum is building in Washington for a national privacy law that could sharply rein in the ability of the largest tech companies to collect and make money from people’s personal data. A Federal law, the first of its kind in the US, could allow people to see or prohibit the use of their data. Companies would need permission to release such information.

At the same time, technology is galloping ahead. At a White House event on Friday, President Donald Trump said the race to build 5G high-speed wireless networks is one the US must win. The Federal Communications Commission said it will hold a massive auction to bolster 5G service, the next generation of mobile networks, with the government planning to spend USD20 billion to expand broadband access in rural areas. The US is jockeying for position with China over 5G.

Behind the drive for a national privacy law is rising concern over the compromise of private data held by Facebook, Google and other tech giants that have reaped riches by aggregating consumer information.

Jourova had discussions with key senators working on privacy legislation, tech industry executives and the head of the Federal Trade Commission, Joseph Simons.

“We are fully at the disposal of the American legislators to give this feedback and experience” with the 10-month-old EU privacy law, she said on Friday.

“I fully recognise that the federal law, if there will be one, will not be copy-and-paste. This is another culture, another society; the citizens may want to see different solutions. It’s fully in the hands of the American legislators.”

Jourova said questions came from senators and industry officials regarding the impact of the EU law on small and start-up businesses, on citizens’ ability to exercise their new privacy rights and on whether it will hinder innovation.