Democrats have reportedly drawn up plans to slap big tech firms with privacy laws similar to GDPR in the EU

  • In a document obtained by Axios, Democratic senator Mark Warner outlined ways of improving regulation of big tech in the US.
  • Warner suggests that making laws similar to the EU’s GDPR regulations could be one way of improving privacy rules.
  • Other suggestions made in the document include making tech firms identify and label bots.

Senator Mark Warner’s office has laid outlined ways for US policymakers to bring big tech to heel following Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In a 23-page document obtained by Axios – prepared by Warner’s staff and reportedly circulated in tech policy circles – the Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman has devised policy proposals around combating disinformation, protecting user privacy, and promoting competition tech.

With regards to protecting user privacy, Warner suggests that the US adopt data legislation similar to Europe’s recent GDPR regulations. He identifies key parts of GDPR which could be copied such as data portability, the right to be forgotten, 72-hour breach notification, and first party consent.

First party consent, in particular, is singled out as a feature of GDPR that the US could adopt, with a view to preventing third parties from obtaining people’s data “without their explicit and informed consent.”

However, the report also says that a singular emphasis on user consent could be “naïve,” and that an effort would also have to be made to crack down on “dark patterns” which are used to manipulate users.

The document notes that a US central authority would have to be created to enforce any GDPR-like regulation, as while EU member states have their own privacy regulators, the US is lacking any equivalent authority. It also notes that GDPR “may take too extreme a view of what constitutes personal data,” as domain registration information falls under that remit.

Mimicking GDPR is only one of many suggestions put forward in the document. It also proposes that web platforms could be legally obliged to identify and label bots, and that there be a public initiative to introduce “media literacy” into the education system.

Many of the policies outlined in the paper are ambitious and sweeping, but as the Democrats hold neither house it is unlikely that we’ll see any of them implemented in the near future.

You can read the full document on Axios.

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