Digitrade Digest #3

Federation of German Consumers releases report on trade law and AI regulation, Parliament hears testimony on digital trade, Global pressure mounts against Big Tech

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Digitrade Headlines

Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) Releases Study on Trade Law and AI Regulation

vzbv: “AI applications can bring many benefits to consumers as well as influence consumer behaviour and can transform entire consumer markets through the personalisation of offers. But as beneficial and useful many AI applications are, they can also bring harm to consumers: Just think of virtual personal assistants that could personalise prices based on willingness to pay or gender; or booking platforms that could exclude consumers based on the analysis of personal traits.2 Therefore, it is of great importance for the European Union (EU) to enact AI regulation that strengthens consumer trust through a high degree of transparency and accountability.” (Read the full study here)

At Parliament, International Trade Committee Hearing on Digital Trade and Data

UK Parliament: On Wednesday, January 27th, a panel of expert witnesses, including Javier Ruiz, former Policy Director for the Open Rights Group in the UK, provided testimony on digital trade provisions relating to issues like cross-border data flows, data protection, and the implications of ongoing negotiations like the UK-Japan Free Trade Agreement. The full testimony is available at the link above.

CRS Report: Brexit and Outlook for a U.S.-UK Free Trade Agreement

Congressional Research Service: “The deal leaves a number of issues open-ended… including cross-border data flows, with the EU delaying a final decision on whether the UK provides adequate personal data protection; many U.S. firms rely on such data flows to communicate with UK and EU customers, partners, and subsidiaries.”

“Many U.S. and UK firms see an FTA as a way to enhance market access and align UK regulations more closely with those of the United States. Other stakeholders oppose what they perceive as efforts to weaken UK regulations. Based on the UK-EU trade deal, the UK may weigh to what extent greater alignment with the United States may offset costs from diverging from the EU.”

Macron Tells Google and Microsoft to Get On Board With EU Rules

Bloomberg: “During a call with Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet Inc. on Monday, Macron told the executives any unfair practices will be seen as an attack on European democracy, according to an account of the conversation from one of the president’s aides. Spokespeople for the companies in Paris did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

France has been a key mover in shaping EU efforts to prevent the spread of hate speech and disinformation online and at curbing the power of tech giants. The European Commission in December proposed two sets of rules, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which are being reviewed by the European Parliament and the member states before they become law.”

5 charts that explain the digital transatlantic relationship

POLITICO: “So far, Europe has taken the lead on setting the global rules for all things digital (outside of China). Yet it remains a lopsided fight.

U.S. companies almost exclusively dominate the global tech industry, although Chinese players are quickly gaining ground. That means the likes of Apple, Microsoft and the rest of the top 30 American digital firms, combined, are worth roughly the same as the annual gross domestic products of the main five European economies. Such corporate financial firepower gives these countries a run for their money in terms of the amount of resources available to throw at digital rule-making.”

Podcast Round-up

A Section 230 Roundtable

Tech Dirt: “Mike recently joined R Street's Shoshana Weissmann on the Daily Tech News Show hosted by Tom Merritt, for a roundtable discussion about the all-important online liability shield and its many, many vital applications that people typically fail to consider.”

Apple, Facebook Spar Over Privacy

WSJ Tech News Briefing: “Apple is moving ahead with plans to introduce a new privacy feature that would give users more control over who has access to their data. While some are cheering the move, some businesses, including Facebook, are pushing back. Reporters Tim Higgins and Sarah Needleman join host Amanda Lewellyn to explain Facebook's concerns, and how this clash of tech giants could play out. Christopher Zinsli is our supervising producer. Kateri Jochum is the executive producer of WSJ Podcasts.”

Why China is Joining the Global Push to Regulate Big Tech

WSJ Tech News Briefing: “Europe has been leading the push to regulate large technology companies, focusing on privacy and competition rules, and the U.S. also has been working to curb Big Tech's power. But recently, China has begun laying out guidelines as well. Tech reporter Sam Schechner joins host Amanda Lewellyn to discuss what China is proposing, and why it is acting now.”

Will Biden Break Up Big Tech?

Recode Daily: “Jason Del Rey breaks down where things stand with antitrust lawsuits against tech giants and how a democratic congress and White House could shape their outcome.”

The Digitrade Digest is a weekly publication of the Digital Rights group at Public Citizen.