Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Expert HITS BACK at claims ‘EU will be dethroned as lead regulator’ amid US-China feud

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Over recent weeks, tensions between Beijing and Washington have intensified with the US banning transactions with Chinese-made technology including TikTok and Huawei. The UK Government have also announced plans to remove the 5G phone network.

Earlier this week, Marietje Schaake, international policy director at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, argued the actions of the US highlight weaknesses in Europe.

As a result of the EU’s lack of restrictions on Chinese technology and AI, she concluded the bloc is at risk of being dethroned as the lead regulator of the digital world and she urged Brussels to look at the US’s policies.

Ms Schaake continued: “Now that geopolitics is integrating with tech policy, the EU risks being dethroned as the lead regulator of the digital world.

“Europe’s ambition of regulating technologies by building on fundamental rights and maintaining transparency is an alternative.

“However, if the EU wants to continue to use its economic and political weight to set higher standards, it cannot stand by while others invoke security threats.

“Europe is a major geopolitical power and it must act like one if it is to maintain its regulatory advantage in the digital world.”

Now, Andy Barratt, UK managing director of cyber security consultancy Coalfire, told “The EU’s GDPR is still the most comprehensive data protection framework in the world and that isn’t going to change because of a kneejerk reaction against Chinese tech brands from the Trump administration.

“The TikTok ban doesn’t appear to be based on any evidence of the company not complying with data privacy regulation and, considering the app collects all the same information as other comparable platforms, seems wholly unjustified.

“I certainly don’t envisage the EU following suit and a trend for blanket bans against brands emerging.

“Even the UK’s actions against Huawei don’t constitute an outright ban, just prevention of involvement in the 5G infrastructure.

“A ban’s effectiveness is very questionable and, for the most part, could be easily undermined by a company merging with or acquiring other businesses to sell their products.”

Mr Barratt argued the EU’s regulatory framework for data privacy is already “robust” but admitted it could be clearer for businesses.

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He continued: “Far from pointing to weaknesses in Europe’s ability to protect its citizens’ data, all that Trump’s TikTok ban shows is how much power the executive wields in the US.

“Action may take longer in Europe, but the authority needed to penalise a brand like TikTok is certainly there if the evidence the company was contravening GDPR came to light.

“The EU’s regulatory framework for data privacy is already pretty robust, but it could offer clearer guidance for businesses on what offence are grounds for legal action.

“One way of achieving more clarity around how GDPR is enforced would be to apply a uniform monetary value to lost personal data.

“If firms knew that the loss of one million records means a €1m fine, it would make it much easier for IT teams to make the business case for more investment in security.”

Back in July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced he was planning to ban the Chinese-made media app along with almost 60 others.

Speaking to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Mr Pompeo said: “We have worked on this very issue for a long time, whether its the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we are making real progress getting that out — we had declared ZTE a danger to American national security.

“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too.”

Mr Pompeo also accused China of “coercive bullying tactics” towards the UK in wake on the Huawei network tensions.

It came when UK Government officials were believed to have been drawing up plans to remove the Chinese-controlled mobile phone network.

Mr Pompeo said: “The United States stands with our allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party’s coercive bullying tactics.

“In the latest example, Beijing has reportedly threatened to punish British bank HSBC and to break commitments to build nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom unless London allows Huawei to build its 5G networks.

“Beijing’s aggressive behaviour shows why countries should avoid economic over-reliance on China and should guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence.”

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