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America Needs to Be More Like Europe and Regulate Information Technology, New America Panelists Agree



WASHINGTON, June 4, 2019 – The United States government needs to regulate data and information technology more like those of European member states, said Europeans and Americans speaking at a New America Foundation event on Tuesday.

“It’s clear that technology is front and center in a conflict that could define the years to come,” said New America Cybersecurity Policy & China Digital Economy Fellow Samm Sacks at the kickoff of the think tank’s new project on “Data & Great Power Competition.”

“Less understood is the role that data governance will play in defining this relationship,” she said in reference to the need for a larger governmental rule in technology.

Sacks highlighted the need for a greater understanding of rules about how data is harnessed, who can access it, and how it can be used and shared. Looking at the coming “explosion of data,” she said, this will only become more important.

Marietje Schaake, who recently stepped down from the European Parliament, said in a prerecorded video that the western world has “failed to develop an agenda for the global governance of technology,” calling this a “crucial” step going forward.

Schaake claimed that the United States’ lack of rules promoting the principles of open internet and privacy have left the space for countries like China and Russia to instead craft the dominant paradigms for global governance.

Both inaction and policies founded on untested assumptions will have “significant consequences,” she said.

The rise of the internet has been largely surrounded by the belief that rules will stifle innovation, leading to a libertarian hands-off approach in both Silicon Valley and Washington. Schaake claimed, however, that without a certain amount of regulation, technology platforms would never have been able to grow as fast as they have.

At the event, Sacks identified three different values commonly framed as tradeoffs in the realm of data governance: Protection of personal liberties, data for innovation and competition in the private sector, and government access to data for national security purposes.

The two major players in technology right now are the United States and China, although these issues will play out all over the world. According to Sacks, China has a “split identity” when it comes to data privacy.

Over the past two years, the Chinese government has implemented many regulations for the use and sharing of data, including third party frameworks, intent to collect, and other measures that appear similar to the privacy-focused General Data Protection Regulation.

Isabella Buscke of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations said that the European commission is “extremely proud” that China has adopted regulations along the lines of GDPR, calling it the first step towards their goal of leading globally on privacy standards.

But the Chinese government is also able to access all of this data, which is especially troubling in light of the country’s authoritarian history. Chinese laws related to technology are usually written very broadly and ambiguously, allowing them to be selectively enforced.

Sacks warned that the United States should not make the same mistakes as China in terms of a sweeping definition of national security, citing last month’s executive order allowing the government to ban the purchase of any technology it decides poses a national security risk – and which it used to immediately target Chinese telecommunications manufacturer Huawei.

On the issue of national security, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said that working in the Department of Justice during the September 11 attacks taught him the importance of data to assessing potential threats.

For example, with appropriate safeguards in place, the massive amounts of data being generated on a daily basis could help identify potential domestic terrorists, he said.

Some of the panelists discussed the importance of individual consent in determining whether and how their data is used. Certain websites inform visitors that their data is being collected, but require them to consent before allowing them access to the site. Chertoff said that this is not a real choice for the consumer.

Instead, he said, Americans need to shift the way in which they think about privacy. Although many people think about privacy in terms of keeping their data hidden, the focus should actually be on controlling data after it has been generated.

(Photo of the event at the New America Foundation by Emily McPhie.)

Reporter Em McPhie studied communication design and writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a managing editor for the student newspaper. In addition to agency and freelance marketing experience, she has reported extensively on Section 230, big tech, and rural broadband access. She is a founding board member of Code Open Sesame, an organization that teaches computer programming skills to underprivileged children.


China Not Retaliating on U.S. Export Policy Out of Fear of Further Restrictions: Experts

China recognizes that it cannot produce all tech on its own, one expert said.




Screenshot of Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council

WASHINGTON, February 27, 2023 – China has no reason to retaliate against U.S. export controls because it might lead to more restrictions on products which would not be in the Chinese Communist Party’s interests, said the president of US-China Business Council at a web conference on Wednesday.

In October, the Commerce Department prohibited the exportation to China of certain high-functioning chips necessary for supercomputers and moved to prevent other countries from providing China with certain semiconductors made with American technology.

The Commerce Department also limited American citizens’ ability to work with Chinese chip facilities. The restrictions were billed as a national security imperative and designed to limit the development of next-generation, chip-dependent Chinese military technology.

At the same time, the U.S. raised concerns that China would retaliate.

“China has a good number of tools or legal tools, which they could retaliate, but that’s hard,” said Craig Allen, president of US-China Business Council, a non-profit that promotes trade between the two countries. “If they do retaliate, for example, against a chip company or manufacturing equipment company, a tool company, or another type of company, then that will lead to further restrictions on the inflow of technology and a product into China. And so, they have not found a way to retaliate, that suits their interest and I hope it stays that way.”

However, China also has remarkable speed and scale, Allen said. He considers China’s manufacturing speed and scale of accessing the market as “quite formidable.”

“Their dominance in the processing of rare earths, for example, is something that we should be concerned about,” according to Allen.

Other experts on the panel had similar opinions as well.

The most advanced artificial intelligence chips go into supercomputing and equipment for the production of semiconductors, according to Jimmy Goodrich, vice president of global policy at the Semiconductor Industry Association. The export control policy is limited to the “most cutting edge technology,” Goodrich said.

“The vast majority of chips don’t depend on and applications don’t depend on those advanced technologies,” said Goodrich. “Many of those are still unrestricted, because they’re ubiquitous, China has a lot more stronger domestic capability to produce them.”

But China may already be cognizant that development of chips is a globally integrated endeavor.

“It’s too complex, too global, too interdependent for one country to be able to produce all these technologies on their own,” Goodrich said, emphasizing the importance of multilateral approach. And that could be why, Goodrich added, China is hesitant to retaliate.

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Commerce Official Calls for Partnerships with Global Allies in Tech Race with China

Improving competitiveness with China is becoming the top priority for Washington.




Photo of Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves, by Tim Su

WASHINGTON, February 6, 2023 – Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves said an event late last month that the U.S. needs to build partnerships with other countries to tilt the balance in its favor against the technological influence of China.

“This is how we’re going to build U.S tech leadership, not with silver bullets, but step-by-step with government, business, educational institutions and communities all working together to create the conditions that will drive innovation, attract investment and grow quality middle class jobs,” said Graves at the Information Technology Industry Council’s tech and policy summit on January 31.

Graves addressed a concern that China has moved aggressively to establish a technological powerhouse “through massive government support for their own domestic industries, strategic use of capital to gain access to early stage, commercial tech” and allegedly through technology theft.

Graves said the Joe Biden administration understands the need for a different approach, a modern strategy that will focus on technology that provide innovation and job opportunities. He referred to a focus on computing-related technologies comprising chips, quantum and artificial intelligence and clean energy tech, that will reduce dependence on fossil fuels and protect against the costs of climate change.

The comments come after the House voted to establish a new committee to study the competitive landscape between China and the U.S. The Federal Communication Commission has already designated major Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE national security threats. In order to increase independence, President Biden has signed the Chips and Science Act into law in August last year that incentivizes the domestic manufacturing of key technologies, including semiconductors.

Sen. Todd Young, R-IN, one of the speakers at the event, called on Congress to be more united when it comes to the issues with China.

“We need to become more economically resilient,” Young said. “That means hardening our supply chains,” which he said can be done using the success of the Chips and Science Act.

“The administration’s theme that domestic policy is foreign policy is a good way to think about many things.”

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New Leadership and Priorities for Republican-Led Energy and Commerce Committee

The new chair renamed three subcommittees, hinting at the GOP’s goals for the coming term.



Photo of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in 2018 by Gage Skidmore, used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 27, 2023 — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., recently named chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced on Wednesday the new Republican leadership and membership of each subcommittee, giving insight into which members of Congress will be at the forefront of key technology decisions over the coming term.

McMorris Rodgers also announced changes to the committee’s structure, renaming three subcommittees and shifting some of their responsibilities. The changes aim to “ensure our work tackles the greatest challenges and most important priorities of the day, including lowering energy costs, beating China and building a more secure future,” McMorris Rodgers told Fox News.

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J. — now the committee’s ranking member after serving as chair for the past four years — announced on Friday each subcommittee’s Democratic membership and leadership, and named Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., as the vice ranking member for the full committee.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., who will serve as the committee’s vice chair, is a vocal critic of Big Tech. In 2021, he was one of several Republicans who championed major reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The committee’s new names hint at some of the ways that the committee’s priorities may shift as Republicans take control. The former Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee is now titled the Innovation, Data and Commerce Subcommittee and will be chaired by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., alongside Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.

Bilirakis and McMorris Rodgers have already announced the subcommittee’s first hearing, which will focus on U.S. global technology leadership and competition with China.

The Communications and Technology Subcommittee, now led by Chair Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Ranking Member Doris Matsui, D-Calif., also emphasized competition with China in the announcement of a hearing on the global satellite industry.

Latta has previously spoken out against the total repeal of Section 230, but he has also expressed concerns about the extent to which it protects tech companies. In an April 2021 op-ed written jointly with Bilirakis, Latta accused social media platforms of engaging in “poisonous practices… that drive depression, isolation and suicide.”

The Environment, Manufacturing and Critical Minerals Subcommittee, formerly known as the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, will be led by Chair Bill Johnson, R-Ohio and Ranking Member Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.

The Energy Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee, formerly known as the Energy Subcommittee, will be led by Chair Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and Ranking Member Diana DeGette, D-Colo.

The Health Subcommittee will be led by Chair Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will be led by Chair Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Ranking Member Kathy Castor, D-Fla.

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