Report: Apple expected to say GDPR a model for US privacy regulation

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According to a report from Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook will praise the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a privacy model that the U.S. should emulate. This is according to an early look at prepared remarks that Cook will deliver at a conference of international data protection regulators being held Brussels, Belgium.

Other technology company CEOs will reportedly address the conference via pre-produced video and won’t appear in person. Cook is the keynote speaker and will be present.

Growing momentum for federal privacy legislation. GDPR is not well liked by most U.S.-based technology companies because of its restrictions on data usage and the compliance burden that it imposes. California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), set to go into effect on January 1, 2020, is the U.S. law closest to GDPR, although it is less strict in many respects. CCPA was passed in order to head off a California ballot initiative that would have been even stronger.

Alarm over CCPA and the possibility that other states may pass similar laws has generated a renewed push for federal privacy and data security legislation that would preempt state law and avoid a patchwork of rules that companies would be forced to deal with. However, many technology companies are seeking weaker federal rules that won’t restrict their behavior and use of data significantly.

Apple to call for comprehensive U.S. rules. In his conference remarks, Apple’s Tim Cook will also call for comprehensive federal privacy rules in the U.S. But Cook’s favorable view of GDPR could put Apple at odds with other tech company peers, which want less restrictive rules.

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Unlike Facebook, Google, Amazon and others, Apple doesn’t make significant revenue from advertising — although a recent financial analyst report from Bernstein projects that Apple will see roughly $2 billion in App Store ad revenue in 2020.

What it means for marketers. Given the existence of CCPA, new privacy rules are coming to the U.S. The only questions that remain are: 1) will a new federal law be passed before CCPA goes into effect in 2020 and 2) how strict will it be? With Apple seeing GDPR as something of a model for the U.S., it’s clear there won’t be unanimity in Silicon Valley around specific requirements.

This could mean that any eventual federal regulations are tougher that what the tech companies currently want.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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