Posts Under: Privacy & Data Security

“What’s This New European Privacy Law About?”: Demystifying the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

With just over a week until the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect, companies around the world are coming into compliance with the far-reaching law. Inboxes everywhere have been overflowing with consent notifications over the past few months. If you’re just getting started on GDPR or generally curious, here is a brief overview of the GDPR. Disclaimer – GDPR is broadly written and is context-specific. If your company is in need of compliance help, consider engaging with an outside firm to address your compliance needs.

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Trump Administration Homes in on the Promises of Artificial Intelligence

In recent days, the Trump Administration has homed in on the promises of artificial intelligence (AI).  On Thursday, the White House issued an AI fact sheet titled, “Artificial Intelligence for the American People.” The fact outlines the Administration’s commitment to investing in AI research and development, creating a regulatory environment that fosters innovation pertaining to AI, and providing workers with 21st Century job skills.  In addition, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) chartered the National Science and Technology Council Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, with the goal of sustaining and enhancing U.S. leadership in AI.  The stated purpose of this Select Committee is “to advise and assist the NSTC to improve the overall effectiveness and productivity of Federal research and development (R&D) efforts related to artificial intelligence.”  It will also “address significant national and ...

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Hal Varian Talks Data and Competition

Twenty years ago, Hal Varian and Carl Shapiro published what has become the classic introduction to network economics.  Called Information Rules it described and illustrated key economic concepts like network effects, positive feedback loops, standards wars, market tipping points and switching costs, using examples that are now so dated that would not be recognizable to today’s digital natives.  But the text drilled into a generation of entrepreneurs and policymakers the importance of understanding the basic economics of network industries before starting a network business or trying to throw a regulatory net around a network industry.   Today Hal Varian works as Google’s chief economist. In his personal capacity he delivered a crash course on AI and data to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s TecGlobal 2018 meeting on April 4. He illustrated the familiar advances in machine learning through pattern recognition in voice and images, noting that it was t ...

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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Reasonable Implementation Key Now

Today, the Atlantic Council hosted an interesting panel discussion entitled: “Protectionism, Data Privacy, and the Transatlantic Partnership.”  European Commission Digital Affairs Counselor Peter Fatelnig, Atlantic Counsel Distinguished Fellow Fran Burwell, and the U.S. Chamber’s Senior Manager for Digital Affairs Kara Sutton provided a lot of substance and perspective on what is happening in the run-up to the GDPR’s May 25, 2018 entry-into-force.    Appropriately, although the event name started with “protectionism,” nobody discussed the GDPR in those terms.  That is because whatever one’s views are on whether the Regulation really will promote digital innovation in Europe, the GDPR per se is not a protectionist Regulation.  Besides, the train has left the station.  Companies around the world, including SIIA and its member companies, are racing to comply with the GDPR.  Currently, I spend about a quarter o ...

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Congress Must Continue to Protect Good Samaritans that Engage in Online Content Moderation

Today, the Senate passed legislation—the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865)— that would give law enforcement and victims much-needed legal tools to prosecute online traffickers and rogue websites.  SIIA congratulates Congress for its bicameral, bipartisan effort to enable full prosecution of those involved in sex trafficking, but we remain concerned about the potential unintended outcomes of any legislation that limits critical internet speech protections provided under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230). CDA 230 enables many platforms and websites work closely with law enforcement, partner with other companies and outside groups to share signals of illegal activity, particularly acts of human trafficking.  It has also become common among large internet platforms to invest in new technologies, such as machine learning, to proactively police and moderate content.  Over decades, CDA 230 has pr ...

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In Wake of FCC Vote, SIIA Calls for Legislative Solution for Enforceable Net Neutrality Rules

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted yesterday to repeal the Obama Administration’s net neutrality regulations, also known as the “Open Internet Order.”  That order, adopted by the FCC in 2015, reclassified broadband internet access providers as communication service providers for regulation under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, providing the FCC broad authority to regulate “common carriers” and created explicit prohibitions on broadband providers to block or throttle sites or apps or offer paid prioritization of any Internet content. The new rules put in place by the FCC, officially referred to as the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” have been touted as “light touch” regulation by Chairman Ajit Pai, whereby broadband providers will still be required to adhere to transparency requirements regarding their treatment of content, which will be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Earlier thi ...

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ePrivacy Regulation: SIIA Urges EU to Take Needed Time to Fix Concerns About Impact on Digital Content and Services

A piece in DigiDay yesterday draws attention to the fact that publishers are at risk under the draft ePrivacy Regulation under consideration in Brussels. At this time, the draft Regulation is in a state of flux, and the outcome is hard to know, with a possible tightening of the current requirements on cookies. Under the current ePrivacy Directive, often referred to as the “Cookie Directive” publishers merely need to get consent, by having readers click a box that they consent to the use of cookies.  As the DigiDay article points out, the new regulation could empower browsers to play more of a gatekeeper role, which is one of several possible outcomes. SIIA has been active in highlighting the problems for European policymakers.  On July 1, 2016, we filed comments arguing that the proposal should not be extended to software and digital content publishers and over-the-top-content providers, who would continue to be regulated under the more flexible rules of th ...

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SIIA Releases Issue Brief on Ethical Use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

The application of big data analytics has already improved lives in innumerable ways.  It has improved the way teachers instruct students, doctors diagnose and treat patients, lenders find creditworthy customers, financial service companies control money laundering and terrorist financing, and governments deliver services.  It promises even more transformative benefits with self-driving cars and smart cities, and a host of other applications will drive fundamental improvements throughout society and the economy. Government policymakers have worked with developers and users of these advanced analytic techniques to promote and protect these publicly beneficial innovations, and they should continue to do so. In many circumstances, current law and regulation provide an adequate framework for strong public protection.  Most of the legal concerns that animate public discussions can be resolved through strong and vigorous enforcement of rules that apply to advanced and tradi ...

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Model Explanations are Part of Ethical Data Practice

Institutions involved in predictive modeling are using ever more advanced techniques to predict outcomes of interest from credit scoring to facial recognition to spam detection.  Institutions assess the performance of these models through standard measures such as accuracy (the number of correct predictions divided by the total number of predictions) or error rate (the number of incorrect predictions divided by the total number of predictions).  They can in addition assess the fairness of their predictions with respect to vulnerable groups using measures such as predictive parity across groups, statistical parity, or equal error rates. Institutions also face legal and ethical obligations to explain the basis of their consequential decisions to those who are affected, to regulators and to the general public.  The idea is that people have rights based on autonomy and dignity to be able to understand why institutions make the decisions they do. When predictive models are ...

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Google Implements Latest Steps to Combat Online Extremism

In the wake of the tragic violence in Charlottesville earlier this month, it’s even more evident that online extremism continues to pose serious threats to society. While battling extremism is an important step in preventing the spread of hate and violence around the world, there are many inherent challenges, including the sheer volume of daily posts, complexity of purpose for videos, and the need to adhere to free speech rights.  In spite of these challenges, industry has been committed to this effort for many years—we’ve highlighted some of this in the past, including industry efforts to cooperate with law enforcement, and formation of a partnership to fight terrorism.

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