Corporate Advisory

Apple and Facebook call for EU-style privacy laws in US

Facebook and Apple have called on the US government to adopt tough EU-style data privacy laws, challenging White House objections that European regulation is imposing red tape on American technology businesses.

In separate addresses in Brussels on Wednesday, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook and Erin Egan, Facebook’s privacy chief, threw their weight behind legislation that would give American citizens equivalent protections to those given to Europeans under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

GDPR, which came into force in May, is one of the toughest personal privacy regimes in the world, giving EU citizens the right to demand companies disclose and delete information held about them. The regulation also gives Europe’s national regulators the power to impose fines of as much as €20m, or 4 per cent of annual revenues, on companies that break the law.

The Trump administration has complained GDPR risks creating barriers to international trade by imposing unnecessary burdens on companies struggling to comply with the rules. Writing in the Financial Times in May, US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the criteria for applying GDPR was “too vague” and would impose a “significant cost” on small businesses.

In a meeting with Vera Jourova, EU justice commissioner, in Brussels last week, Mr Ross expressed concerns GDPR was creating difficulties for US business and law enforcement, according to an EU official familiary with the matter. Mr Ross also invited Brussels to send comments on how GDPR operates to the White House for its consultations on drafting a US privacy law.

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