After a successful week in Brussels attending the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress, it's good to be back here at IAPP HQ in New Hampshire. The days are dramatically shorter, but that's tempered by knowing the holidays and family gatherings are just around the corner.
As I continue to reflect on last week, it's clear to me that we're going through a period of rapid change. Of course, the General Data Protection Regulation is pushing companies to alter their business operations and find technology to make those operations more efficient and scalable. The proposed ePrivacy Regulation, too, will have a dramatic effect on the adtech industry. Check out last Friday's podcast with Johnny Ryan to dive into some of these issues. An op-ed in Ad Exchanger also caught my attention. In it, Dylan Collins draws a parallel between adtech designed for kids and the GDPR. Since COPPA has shaped the "kidstech" industry to leverage "zero-knowledge systems," and since PwC says this market is growing at 25 percent annually, perhaps advertisers can look to these systems to protect privacy and drive revenue, all the while avoiding the dreaded adtech apocalypse. Food for thought, I guess.
Also, here in the States, we're undergoing another transformation. Now almost a year into Donald Trump's presidency, we're seeing the roll back of federal regulations, and in their place, more states stepping into the breach. For example, Missouri's attorney general said his office is investigating Google for potential privacy and antitrust violations. States have also been busy creating their own pro-privacy telecommunications laws in an attempt to outflank the Federal Communications Commission. Verizon, Comcast and the CTIA have all petitioned the FCC to prevent implementation of such rules. The FCC will win this fight. Nevertheless, we've seen a dramatic swing from the pro-regulatory regime under President Obama to the current anti-regulatory regime under Trump. It will continue to be interesting to watch states go head-to-head with the federal government on many of these issues affecting privacy.
Internet-of-things technology also took a big step forward this week after the Food and Drug Administration approved a pill embedded with a sensor to help track whether patients with mental illnesses are maintaining their prescriptions. I'm sure this will be the first of many such advancements in health care in which our bodies become further enmeshed with technology.
The New York Times also published a stunning and in-depth report on the Shadow Brokers' hack of the U.S. National Security Agency. Unlike the Snowden disclosures, which primarily revealed the existence of certain surveillance programs, the Shadow Brokers' hack unleashed real NSA-devised hacking tools into the wild. Of course this is a huge deal for national security purposes, but it also means trouble for the private sector. Now anyone can get ahold of these tools, and any individual or organization can become a victim. I think this bolsters the argument for maintaining strong encryption in our communications and storage technologies. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has recently been on the offensive about mandating some sort of backdoor into encrypted messaging services, but with so many adversaries with so many powerful hacking tools, shouldn't we maintain the strongest encryption possible?
Finally, one other article that grabbed my attention called for taxing businesses that process personal data. The tax would be a modest one, perhaps below one percent. The idea is to cycle that revenue back to the public to help improve information privacy, combat identity theft, and bolster connectivity. What do you think: good idea, or a pipe dream?
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