U.S. and China Stepping Up Big Tech Regulation
September 27, 2021
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by Arabella Seebaluck

A report by CNBC states that “The United States is catching up on regulation and China is also taking it to a new level.” This is as both countries, who are in the leadership board in the business of IT, have been generally side-lined by the EU in terms of rules and regulation.

Indeed, the EU has so far been ahead of the curve in regulating technology giants. However, their new endeavour for a stronger say in regulations may then push the EU towards finding new ways and other measures it wants to implement. That’s if it wants to keep the spearheading role it has had so far in ensuring a regulatory framework for the IT industry at large.

The EU’s part has been primarily moulded by the fact that most of the tech giants came from outside of the block. Therefore, it had to find a way to protect its member states with ‘high-profile policies’ such as the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.

What is GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the toughest privacy and security law in the world. Though it was drafted and passed by the European Union (EU), it imposes obligations onto organizations anywhere, so long as they target or collect data related to people in the EU. The regulation was put into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR will levy harsh fines against those who violate its privacy and security standards, with penalties reaching into the tens of millions of euros.

With the GDPR, Europe is signaling its firm stance on data privacy and security at a time when more people are entrusting their personal data with cloud services and breaches are a daily occurrence. The regulation itself is large, far-reaching, and fairly light on specifics, making GDPR compliance a daunting prospect, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

[Source: https://gdpr.eu/what-is-gdpr/]

How China and the U.S. are Catching Up

The three regional blocks are now in competition, analysts deem. China is reported to have a set of new legal rules which have been passed expressly for the IT industry. These include laws against monopoly, in favour of data protection and other measures which have led to inquiries and penalties for several corporations.

“It has led to billions of dollars being wiped off the value of Chinese tech giants, with companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and Didi under pressure,” Silvia Amaro writes for CNBC.

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission now can ‘challenge bad mergers’ and limit ‘noncompete agreements’. This follows an executive order signed by President Joe Biden regarding corporate consolidation and antitrust laws.

What’s next for the EU

Analysts say that the EU will now have no choice but to cooperate more closely with China and the U.S. if it wants to keep its top watchdog role. As China leads the technology world, it will be in the legitimate, if not morally correct position to establish its own rules, protocols and other related regulations.

The EU will lose some of its dominance simply because it is not, as China or the U.S. are, an actual big-level player in the IT industry. What the block is also trying to do is ‘attempt to influence other areas in the sector’.

Artificial Intelligence is one of those areas. This is something which came to the attention of several entrepreneurs and changemakers. One of them is Karl Leahlander. He is the CEO of Youpal Group, a distributed tech start-up based out of Stockholm, Sweden.

“We need to address the issues people aren’t addressing because they’re uncomfortable. For example, if we take a look at our own company, how can similar entities be allowed so much freedom in dealing with AI? Not everyone has the intentions we have to create a positive change and impact. So, how can this field be as unregulated as it is today?”

Like Leahlander, many feel these are, indeed, areas where Europe can still make a difference. The block is working on a specific strategy for the field of AI and is also looking at addressing the worldwide chip shortage.

“All of these steps come under what some EU policymakers describe as digital sovereignty: the idea that the bloc needs to foster its own innovation and become less reliant on foreign technology and companies” Amaro concludes.

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