Microsoft calls for federal regulation of the tech industry

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

In a Microsoft blog post from Monday, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Julie Brill reflected on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was enacted nearly one year ago. Brill feels that the GDPR has been very effective in changing the way that tech companies handle personal data.

“[Companies] have adapted, putting new systems and processes in place to ensure that individuals understand what data is collected about them and can correct it if it is inaccurate and delete it or move it somewhere else if they choose,” she wrote.

Brill points out that the GDPR has inspired other countries to adopt similar regulations. She also pats her company on the back for being “the first company to provide the data control rights at the heart of GDPR to our customers around the globe, not just in Europe.”

However, such self-regulation is not good enough. While some states such as California and Illinois have strong data protection laws in place, Brill feels the US needs something similar to the GDPR at the federal level.

“No matter how much work companies like Microsoft do to help organizations secure sensitive data and empower individuals to manage their own data, preserving a strong right to privacy will always fundamentally be a matter of law that falls to governments,” Brill states. “Despite the high level of interest in exercising control over personal data from U.S. consumers, the United States has yet to join the EU and other nations around the world in passing national legislation that accounts for how people use technology in their lives today.”

She points to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which goes into effect next year, as a model for federal policy. Brill says that consumers have the right to control their information and that companies need to be held to a higher degree of accountability and transparency with how they collect and use customer data. The new laws also need to have teeth.

Brill said that one problem with current privacy laws is that they are problematic when it comes to enforcement. The Federal Trade Commission is charged with enforcing such laws, but cannot fine a company without a consent decree.

“Laws currently on the books are simply not strong enough to enable the FTC to protect privacy effectively in today’s complex digital economy.”

When companies violate these laws, they are not typically fined at first. Instead, they sign a consent decree, which makes them liable for penalties if they are caught in the act again. We have recently seen these decrees in effect with both Facebook and Google. However, these are outlying cases.

According to the Government Accountability Office, over the last 10 years, the FTC has filed 101 enforcement actions. Nearly all of these carried no civil penalties. Instead, they amounted to settlement agreements requiring companies to take measures to prevent the violation from occurring again.

“Federal law must also include strong enforcement provisions,” Brill said. “Laws currently on the books are simply not strong enough to enable the FTC to protect privacy effectively in today’s complex digital economy.”

Microsoft is not the only big tech corporation to call for federal regulation. Apple, which also touts itself on its strong privacy policies, recently indicated that the time for self-regulation is over.

“We all have to be intellectually honest, and we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working,” said Tim Cook back in April at the Time 100 Summit. "Technology needs to be regulated. There are now too many examples where the no rails have resulted in great damage to society.”

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amstech

IT Overlord
Unfettered access to social media and devices allows addiction without consequence. Someone who is constantly on their phone is usually living a quite unhealthy lifestyle, and these are the same people that glitter Facebook with sugarcoated nonsense in some highly experienced but obvious effort to make their lives look better then they are.
I don't feel this way with gaming anymore though, while making money doesn't absolve an act of its importance or value, atleast your interacting with other people. You need to be gaming more then 3-4 hours a day before I would call it an addiction.
I've been trying to use my smartphone less and less, but I feel that's easier for me as I live in the Country on a ranch, with acres of land, river front, lots of powersport toys and outdoor options. If I was cooped up in the City, I am sure I'd be gaming more.
Living in the City SUCKS.
 
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Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
"like a kid wanting to be grounded because he just can’t keep his hand out of the cookie jar, the industry is beginning to call for federal regulation."

The fact you can write that and not realize how strained that simile is speaks wonders. What child, ever, would voluntarily ask to be grounded because they are so good at stealing from the cookie jar that they are not getting caught or punished enough? No kid thinks this way, jsut as no corporation willingly asks to be regulated by government because "muh privacy".

Instead, ask yourself this: Why would these big tech companies suddenly ask to have part of the industry regulated? How does this benefit them? Google is one of the rising stars in the OS world, Android has dominant control worldwide in mobile, and ChromeOS is becoming popular with end users and int he educational segment. How would MS, whom was never able to cut it into the mobile space and is watching ChromeOS continually increase in market share, benefit from forcing google to comply with expensive regulations? Why would Apple, Google's only main competitor in mobile, want to see Google lose market share? HMMMMM.........REALLY MAKES YOU THINK. REALLY GETS THAT NOGGIN JOGGIN.

These companies are now eagerly looking for regulation because they have the power to influence those regulations. This is no different then how Airplane manufacturers eagerly jumped on the safety regulation bandwagon after years of resistance, because they had the power to write the regulations, which inevitably lead to Boeing becoming an airplane giant and pushing the disastrous 737 MAX. Oops.

Companies like MS and Apple are not benevolent grandparents, they are faceless, massively rich corporate entities that are seeking to maintain their positions of immense wealth and power, and regulating their possible opponents out of existence is their wet dream. Large corporations often use lobbying, political pressure, or outright bribery to get laws shaped in a way that benefits them, happens all the time, and yet because tech companies are hip and happening some people willingly drink the cool aid and think these corporations are looking out for the good of the people. They are not, they are merely trying to produce a more favorable position for themselves.
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Regulation is all well and fine as long as the Tech companies are kept out of the regulatory process. Their only purpose will be to cut the throats of their competitors and take as much for themselves as possible. This business maxim hasn't changed in 200 years, don't expect it to change now.
 
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Evernessince

TS Evangelist
"like a kid wanting to be grounded because he just can’t keep his hand out of the cookie jar, the industry is beginning to call for federal regulation."

The fact you can write that and not realize how strained that simile is speaks wonders. What child, ever, would voluntarily ask to be grounded because they are so good at stealing from the cookie jar that they are not getting caught or punished enough? No kid thinks this way, jsut as no corporation willingly asks to be regulated by government because "muh privacy".
The kind that's fat and has diabetes without his parents knowing. An apt comparison to the tech industry if I've ever seen one.
 
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stuggy

TS Rookie
Microsoft and the other big tech players are absolutely not pushing this to give themselves a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Proportionally they can easily absorb the enormous costs of complying while smaller competitors and startups would struggle or even go under.

I think ultimately there does have to be stronger privacy and data collection regulation but we need a much wider debate and consultation than simply allowing the giants to push through what they want - draconian requirements that they themselves had the huge benefit of never having to face until they had already 'made it'.

The same applies to the new EU copyright regulations that are likely to become law soon enough. Ultimately another likely massive boon to big tech.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
A lot of it comes down to morals and ethics; of which, most upper-management level thinkers have little to none. The world would be a much better place if it wasn't for these twisted individuals. And society has unfortunately dictated that this behavior is both expected and accepted. Making society just as corrupt in the end...
 
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