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Europe will push to work with the US on tech governance, post-Trump – TechCrunch

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The European Union mentioned in the present day that it needs to work with US counterparts on a typical strategy to tech governance — together with pushing to standardize guidelines for purposes of applied sciences like AI and pushing massive tech to be extra chargeable for what their platforms amplify.

EU lawmakers are anticipating rebooted transatlantic relations below the incoming administration of president-elect Joe Biden.

The Fee has printed a brand new EU-US agenda with the intention of encouraging what it payments as “international cooperation — based mostly on our widespread values, pursuits and international affect” in a variety of areas, from tackling the coronavirus pandemic to addressing local weather change and furthering a Western geopolitical agenda.

Commerce and tech coverage is one other main precedence for the hoped for reboot of transatlantic relations, beginning with an EU-US Summit within the first half of 2021.

Relations have in fact been strained throughout the Trump period because the sitting US president has threatened the bloc with commerce tariffs, berated European nations for not spending sufficient on defence to fulfil their Nato commitments and closely implied he’d be so much happier if the EU didn’t exist in any respect (together with loudly supporting brexit).

The agenda conveys a transparent message that bloc’s lawmakers are hopeful of much more joint working towards widespread objectives and pursuits as soon as the Biden administration takes workplace early subsequent yr.

International AI requirements?

On the tech entrance the Fee’s push is for alignment on governance.

“The EU and the US want to hitch forces as tech-allies to form applied sciences, their use and their regulatory surroundings,” the Fee writes within the agenda. “Utilizing our mixed affect, a transatlantic know-how house ought to type the spine of a wider coalition of like-minded democracies with a shared imaginative and prescient on tech governance and a shared dedication to defend it.”

Among the many proposals it’s floating is a “Transatlantic AI Settlement” — which it envisages as setting “a blueprint for regional and international requirements aligned with our values”.

Whereas the EU is working on a pan-EU framework to set guidelines for the usage of “excessive threat” AIs, some US cities and states have already moved to ban the usage of particular purposes of synthetic intelligence — corresponding to facial recognition. So there’s potential to align on some excessive degree rules or requirements.

(Or, because the EU places it: “We have to begin performing collectively on AI — based mostly on our shared perception in a human-centric strategy and coping with points corresponding to facial recognition.”)


“Our shared values of human dignity, particular person rights and democratic rules make us pure companions to harness speedy technological change and face the challenges of rival techniques of digital governance. This offers us an unprecedented window of alternative to set a joint EU-US tech agenda,” the Fee additionally writes, suggesting there’s a rising convergence of views on tech governance.

Talks on tackling massive tech

Right here it additionally sees alternative for the EU and the US to align on tackling massive tech — saying it needs to open discussions on setting guidelines to sort out the societal and market impacts of platform giants.

“There’s a rising consensus on each side of the Atlantic that on-line platforms and Big Tech increase points which threaten our societies and democracies, notably by way of dangerous market behaviours, unlawful content material or algorithm-fuelled propagation of hate speech and disinformation,” it writes.

“The necessity for international cooperation on know-how goes past the {hardware} or software program. Additionally it is about our values, our societies and our democracies,” the Fee provides. “On this spirit, the EU will suggest a brand new transatlantic dialogue on the accountability of on-line platforms, which might set the blueprint for different democracies going through the identical challenges. We must also work nearer collectively to additional strengthen cooperation between competent authorities for antitrust enforcement in digital markets.”

The Fee is on the cusp of unveiling its personal blueprint for regulating massive tech — with a Digital Companies Act and Digital Markets Act attributable to be introduced later this month.

Commissioners have mentioned the legislative packages will set clear situations on digital gamers, corresponding to for the dealing with and reporting of unlawful content material, in addition to setting binding transparency and equity necessities.

They will even introduce a brand new regime of ex ante guidelines for so-called gatekeeper platforms that wield important market energy (aka massive tech) — with such gamers set to be topic to an inventory of dos and don’ts, which may embody bans on sure sorts of self-preferencing and limits on their use of third celebration knowledge, with the intention of guaranteeing a degree enjoying area sooner or later.

The bloc has additionally been contemplating beefing up antitrust powers for intervening in digital markets.

Given how superior EU lawmakers are on proposals to control massive tech vs US counterparts there’s arguably solely a small window of alternative for US lawmakers to affect the form of EU guidelines on (largely US) massive tech. However the Fee evidently views rebooted relations, post-Trump, as presenting a chance for it to affect US coverage — by encouraging European-style platform guidelines to cross the pond.

It’s keen on claiming the EU’s knowledge safety framework (GDPR) has set a worldwide instance which has influenced lawmakers world wide. So its intent seems to be to double down — and push to export a European strategy to regulating massive tech again to the place most of those giants are based mostly, even because the bloc’s different establishments are nonetheless debating and amending its proposals.

Subsequent-gen cellular safety

One other widespread problem the doc factors to is next-gen cellular connectivity. This has been a specific soapbox of Trump’s lately, with the ALL-CAPS loving president regularly taking to Twitter to threaten and bully allies into taking a tricky line on permitting Chinese language distributors as suppliers for his or her next-gen cellular infrastructure, arguing they’re too nice a nationwide safety threat.

“We face widespread challenges in managing the digital transition of our economies and societies. These embody essential infrastructure, corresponding to 5G, 6G or cybersecurity belongings, that are important for our safety, sovereignty and prosperity — but in addition knowledge, applied sciences and the function of on-line platforms,” the Fee writes, easing into the problem.

EU lawmakers go on to say they may put ahead proposals “for safe 5G infrastructure throughout the globe and open a dialogue on 6G” — as a part of what they hope can be “wider cooperation on digital provide chain safety completed by way of goal risk-based assessments”.

As a substitute of a blanket ban on Huawei as a 5G provider the Fee opted to endorse a bundle of “mitigating measures” — by way of a 5G toolbox — at first of this yr, which incorporates issues like beefing up community safety necessities on carriers and threat profile assessments of suppliers. So it seems to be hoping the US might be satisfied within the worth of a joint strategy to standardizing these types of safety assessments — aka, ‘no extra nasty surprises’ — as a method to cut back the shocks and uncertainty that have hit digital supply chains throughout Trump’s presidency.

Elevated cooperation round cybersecurity is one other space the place the EU says it is going to be urgent US counterparts — floating the concept of joint EU-US restrictions towards attributed attackers from third nations sooner or later. (A proposal which, ought to it’s taken up, may see coordinated sanctions towards Russia, which has previously been recognized by US and European intelligence companies working malware assaults focused at COVID-19 vaccine R&D.)

Easing EU-US knowledge flows

A trickier space for the tech facet of the Fee’s plan to reboot transatlantic relations is EU-US knowledge flows.

That’s as a result of Europe’s prime court docket torpedoed the Fee’s US adequacy discovering this summer time — stripping the nation of a privileged standing of ‘important equivalence’ to knowledge safety requirements because the EU.

With out that there’s big authorized uncertainty and threat for US companies that take EU residents’ knowledge out of the area for processing.

Steering from EU regulators on the way to lawfully safe their knowledge transfers makes it clear that in some cases there merely gained’t be any further measures or contractual caveats that may be added to repair the danger totally. The answer might in actual fact be knowledge localization within the EU. (One thing the Fee’s Information Governance Act proposal, unveiled last week, confirmed by permitting for Member States to set situations for essentially the most delicate sorts of knowledge — corresponding to prohibiting transfers to 3rd nations.)

“We should additionally brazenly talk about diverging views on knowledge governance and see how these might be overcome constructively,” the Fee writes on this thorny subject, including: “The EU and the US ought to intensify their cooperation at bilateral and multilateral degree to advertise regulatory convergence and facilitate free knowledge movement with belief on the premise of excessive requirements and safeguards.”

Commissioners have warned earlier than there’s no quick fix for the EU-US knowledge switch subject — however a long term resolution can be a convergence of requirements within the areas of privateness and knowledge safety.

And, once more, that’s an space the place US states have been taking action. However the Fee agenda pushing for “regulatory convergence” to ease knowledge flows sums to attempting to persuade US counterparts of the financial case for reforming Part 702 of FISA…

Digital tax and tech-trade cooperation

Digital tax reform can be inexorably on the Fee’s agenda since no settlement has but been presumably on this stickiest of tech coverage points.

On this it writes that each the EU and the US ought to “strongly decide to the well timed conclusion of discussions on a worldwide resolution inside the context of OECD and G20” — saying that is important to create “a good and fashionable financial system, which supplies market-based rewards for one of the best modern concepts”.

“Truthful taxation within the digital financial system requires modern options on each side of the Atlantic,” it provides. 

One other proposal the EU is floating is to ascertain a EU-US Commerce and Expertise Council — to “collectively maximise alternatives for market-driven transatlantic collaboration, strengthen our technological and industrial management and develop bilateral commerce and funding”.

It envisages the physique specializing in lowering commerce limitations; growing appropriate requirements and regulatory approaches for brand spanking new applied sciences; guaranteeing essential provide chain safety; deepening analysis collaboration and selling innovation and honest competitors, saying there must also be “a brand new widespread deal with defending essential applied sciences”.

“We’d like nearer cooperation on points corresponding to funding screening, Mental Property rights, pressured transfers of know-how, and export controls,” it provides.

The Fee introduced its personal Intellectual Property Action Plan final week, alongside the Information Governance Act proposal — which included help for SMEs to file patents. It additionally mentioned it’ll think about whether or not reform the framework for submitting requirements important patents, encouraging trade to interact in boards aimed toward lowering litigation in the intervening time.

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Natasha Lomas