In a strange turn of events it now appears that the major tech firms are looking to proactively engage the government to create first-of-its-kind digital privacy legislation. Up until now the internet has generally been free and unrestricted, especially for US techs and their domestic users. But now it appears a coalition of publishers, known as the Information Technology Industry Council, is taking a proactive stance to invite Federal legislation upon themselves.
Why is the Silicon Valley all of a sudden so interested in being regulated? They probably realize some form of regulation is coming, so if they’re proactive in helping craft the new rules they can make it as palatable as possible. Think of the possible outcomes as the difference between GDPR and GDPR-lite – if you know you’re getting some form of regulation you might as well take the lite version.
The other question is why now? The techs are fearful of individual States enacting their own legislation sooner than later, which could result in tougher laws than any Federal version and require a patchwork of standards which would be hard for any national publisher to comply with. California was close to putting a strict user privacy law up as a ballot initiative this November, which was only headed off by the State Legislature hastily voting for a watered down version of the proposed rules. This near miss in CA may have scared the techs into believing they need to act now or risk much more aggressive laws being passed as early as next year.
Whether you work in the industry or are a user of the internet (so basically everyone), this one’s worth keeping an eye on.