Digital Bridge: US privacy pitch — Putin’s Western fanboys — German digital G7
IT’S THE BANE OF POLICYMAKERS’ LIVES: In a globalized world, what’s the best way to set (enforceable) rules for global tech companies that cross multiple jurisdictions, many of which have divergent approaches to digital rulemaking? Susan Ness, a former commissioner of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and Chris Riley, a senior fellow on internet governance at the R Street Institute, a think tank in Washington, think they have the answer. They want countries to sign up to so-called modules, or global voluntary standards that different governments would agree to follow in line with their own domestic regulation. I called them up to walk through their proposal.
Ness on why modules are needed: “We’re never going to get total alignment across the Atlantic on a regulatory regime. But if we have specific language that permits multi-stakeholder developed modules that are common across jurisdictions, then what we can do is, on the bottom-upside, get some of these smaller modules to be designed and then accepted.”
Riley on what gap this would fill: “What we’re doing is capturing a shared spirit across many different people of finding a path to greater transatlantic cooperation, as well as greater multistakeholder participation in the development of these evolving standards. Everybody is talking about trying to do that. Nobody has an approach or framework to get started.”
Ness on where to start: “It could be minimum disclosures and archiving rules for political advertising or access to (social media) data for researchers. That might be another one or two areas that would be ripe for this sort of cooperation. But start small and start with a success. Prove the concept.”
Riley on how to enforce these modules: “We would expect to see a degree of voluntary compliance. We would expect to see bills introduced in Congress that would go further than voluntary, even though they wouldn’t necessarily be enforced. We would expect to see White House-organized roundtables and high-profile events that press companies on their degree of compliance with such measures.”