Google Fights Back Against Stricter Privacy Regulations

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The Google logo on a building in California (Photo: Google)

The Google executive in charge of global government relations is calling for countries to adopt a watered-down version of the patently impossible "one-size-fits-all approach" when regulating tech and social media companies like his.

Karan Bhatia, Vice President of Global Public Policy and Government Relations disguised his call for common regulations as "common rules of the road." His eyebrow-raising suggestions follow increasing calls for tougher government regulations of tech and social media firms in light of relentless abuses and scandals plaguing these firms.

Europe and its General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) regulation implemented May 2018 is one example of harsh regulations social media and tech firms say impinge on their basic rights. GDPR is a law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).

Bhatia admitted a one-size-fits-all approach won't work, but this didn't stop him from revealing his own solution to this conundrum. What Bhatia suggests is that countries work towards some sort of "convergence" of regulation worldwide, according to CNBC.

"Some coordination on this, some level of collaboration, I think is going to be absolutely critical. We are very supportive of international efforts on multiple fronts to sort of create that level of dialogue and ideally common rules of the road," said Bhatia during at the World Government Summit in Dubai yesterday.

"I think it would be extremely helpful if there was some convergence," he said.

On the other hand, Bhatia called for a federal approach for the U.S. where regulation legislation will be fragmented because of different laws among the 50 states. There are no federal laws regulating social media and tech firms.

"We're actually very supportive of comprehensive privacy legislation," according to Bhatia.

Bhatia found an ally Margaret Peterlin, senior vice president of global external and public affairs at AT&T, who also called for a "convergence" of laws for technology firms. She also called for federal legislation.

"Yes we'd like to see federal legislation and part of the reason why is it's really important to provide consistency," said Peterlin.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has also said he supports federal privacy laws, if and when these come about.

California, however, leads the rest of the U.S. in crafting tougher laws limiting the access to data by tech firms. It plans to introduce its own privacy laws in the absence of federal regulations.

There's a growing consensus toward regulation in the U.S. Congress largely because of the backlash against huge technology firms such as Facebook with its Cambridge Analytica scandal, which many see has having grown largely unchecked by the federal government.

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