Week ahead in tech: Trade associations rally for digital commerce reform

Week ahead in tech: Trade associations rally for digital commerce reform

Technology trade associations will show up in force on Capitol Hill next week to advocate for digital commerce reform.

The president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, Dean Garfield, and the president and CEO of BSA, the Software Alliance, Victoria Espinel, are set to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the matter.

Both run trade associations that represent the interests of major technology firms like Microsoft, Oracle and Apple on Capitol Hill and in the White House.


The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection on Wednesday will hear from the CEOs on the “impact of global digital trade – namely in the form of cross-border data flows.” Cross-border data flows are the flow of digital information between countries.

The hearing will address potential impediments to data localization laws, which require companies to store certain types of data, like the personal information of its citizens, within its own borders.

Countries have increasingly considered such laws after Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the extent of international surveillance by U.S. intelligence. Some see it as one answer to prevent American intelligence from being able to collect data on its citizens.

The associations would like to see provisions in international agreements, like the NAFTA reboot and the data sharing agreement between the U.S. and U.K. known as Privacy Shield, that allow data to continue to flow freely across borders.

Meanwhile, discourse over how Russian actors potentially used social media platforms to influence the election may die down a little.

The Senate, which has been the most vocal on the matter, will be in recess.

Still, lawmakers want to see Facebook release the 3,000 ads it has determined Russian-linked actors purchased on its platform. The House will still be in session and the House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat, Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump calls Saudi explanation for journalist's death credible, arrests 'good first step' Schiff: If Khashoggi was fighting in consulate he was fighting 'for his life' Maxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack MORE (Calif.), who has strongly advocated for Facebook releasing the ads, is likely to continue his push for this.

"The American people deserve to see the ways that the Russian intelligence services manipulated and took advantage of online platforms to stoke and amplify social and political tensions, which remains a tactic we see the Russian government rely on today,” Schiff said earlier this week.

Facebook has not yet commented on whether it will release the ads, but the company seems hesitant to do so.

Regardless of what happens when the Senate is in session, Facebook and other technology companies will be forced to confront the matter on Nov. 1 for a House Intelligence Committee hearing and a separate Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian influence via their platforms.

Facebook is the only company that has committed to attending both hearings. Twitter has said that it will attend the Senate hearing, but has yet to comment on the House hearing. Google has not commented on either.

On Wednesday, October 11, the House Commerce subcommittee on technology will hold a markup on a bill to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission at 2 p.m.

And on Thursday, the House Homeland Security subcommittee on emergency preparedness will hold a hearing on first responder communications at 10 a.m.


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