Global Leaders Want Global Oversight Of Big Tech

World leaders from countries including Japan, South Africa, China, and Germany said there should be global oversight of the technology industry, underscoring the interest internationally to regulate tech, which is an area where the U.S. leads.

According to a report in The New York Times, during Davos, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said the country will call for new international oversight of how the tech companies use data, using Japan’s chairmanship of the Group of 20 nations to push through those efforts. The New York Times noted that governance of how companies use data will be a topic when the prime ministers meet in June for their annual summit. The idea is to expand the World Trade Organization rules to include data as well as trading in goods and services, reported the NYT.  “I would like Osaka G20 to be long remembered as the summit that started worldwide data governance,”  Abe said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that was covered by the NYT.

Abe said Japan plans to push for increased oversight quickly but didn’t say what the plan will look like. “We must, on one hand, be able to put our personal data and data embodying intellectual property, national security intelligence, and so on, under careful protection, while on the other hand, we must enable the free flow of medical, industrial, traffic and other most useful, non-personal, anonymous data to see no borders, repeat, no borders,” he said, according to the NYT.

The report noted Abe’s idea was shared by other world leaders during Davos, including President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who called for more oversight of the tech sector and said it will be a topic of African Union leaders when they meet in early February.  “When it comes to technology, I would support an overarching body that’ll set standards on a whole range of things,” Ramaphosa told theNYT, naming cybersecurity as a top focus.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany used her speech at Davos to call for a “common digital market” in the European Union. She argued international oversight of how data is used is necessary. China’s Vice President Wang Qishan echoed the sentiments, calling for more international coordination when it comes to oversight of the tech sector. China’s vice president didn’t bring up privacy in the speech, noted the NYT.  “We need to respect the independent choices of model of technology management and of public policies made by countries, and their right to participate in the global technological governance system as equals,” Wang said.