Data Privacy Is Key To The Technology Battle With China

The US needs to get together with its allies to set privacy standards around new technologies like AI, according the President Biden's National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan. Speaking at the recent summit meeting of the National Security Commission for Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) Sullivan said that actions  aimed at setting multinational standards on 5G and other new technologies are now urgently needed.

One such initiative is the Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group, composed of representatives from India, Australia, Japan and the United States, but with this project a number of disagreements have emerged over consumer data and how some American companies were treating it. 

In 2018, the EU used the the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) against US companies that were using European user data and the EU has continued to restrict data sharing. However, Sullivan said concerns about privacy wouldn’t necessarily be a barrier to better US and allied partnership on AI

In fact, privacy concerns actually undersline the US and EU's shared values and provide an important contrast with less democratic states like China and Russia, Sullivan said.

“I actually think there are innovations in the space and standards we can set that will give us the advantage over those societies that instead have shredded any notion of privacy... The large majority of the world actually is not ready to sign onto a vision of the future that says you have absolutely no privacy. No Trust. No security… big data owned by the government,” he said. 

Sullivan focused on emerging technologies like “privacy-preserving machine learning,” that can allow machine learning algorithms to process data without revealing personal information in the data itself. Such technologies “promise to overcome data privacy challenges while still delivering the value of big data,” he said. That tracks closely with the NSCAI Commission Report, which sought to help the United States to compete on AI.  

As AI is emerging as a vital technology the will likely become one of the most powerful tools in for the benefit of humanity. According to Sullivan “These advances are not science fair experiments; they are improving life and unlocking mysteries of the natural world. They are the kind of discoveries for which the label “game changing” is not a cliché.”

Sullivan argues that the US can use diplomacy and alliances to advocate for establishing privacy-protecting technical standards and norms in international bodies to persuade other nations have an alternative to embracing Chinese technology.

This process is already underway following President Biden's recent Executive Order to increase government monitoring of the digital supply chain and connected devices, as well as the user data those devices collect. 

The Order states, “Connected software applications are designed to be used on an end-point computing device and include the ability to collect, process, or transmit data via the Internet as an integral functionality... Connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including personal information and proprietary business information... Such data collection threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information, which in turn presents a significant threat to US national security.”

NSCAI:      DefenseOne:      Torres Trade Law:     Govt. of Australia:

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