Trump Commerce chief: EU data privacy law could hurt trade

Trump Commerce chief: EU data privacy law could hurt trade
© Greg Nash

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Senate approves 4B spending bill | China imposes new tariffs on billion in US goods | Ross downplays new tariffs: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' Ross: 'Nobody's going to actually notice' new tariffs on China China imposes new tariffs on billion of US goods: report MORE is warning that Europe's strict new data privacy laws could hurt trade with the U.S.

In an op-ed for The Financial Times, Ross said that the lack of clarity around the tough new rules, formally known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), could hamper information-sharing between governments and businesses across the Atlantic.

“GDPR creates serious, unclear legal obligations for both private and public sector entities, including the US government,” Ross wrote. “We do not have a clear understanding of what is required to comply. That could disrupt transatlantic co-operation on financial regulation, medical research, emergency management co-ordination, and important commerce."

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The privacy rules went into effect on Friday, forcing digital businesses to scramble to comply. Under the new regime, websites will have to be more up front about how they use consumer data and offer users more control over their own information.

Consumer and privacy advocates have touted the new rules as a benchmark for regulating data collection, while the private sector has largely argued that the law is unclear and onerous.

Ross also argued that the rules could affect law enforcement by “restricting access to publicly available internet domain-name registration data.”

“That could stop law enforcement from ascertaining who is behind websites that propagate terrorist information, sponsor malicious botnets or steal IP addresses,” he wrote.

“These important activities need to be weighed carefully against privacy concerns,” Ross added. “They are critical to building trust in the internet, safeguarding infrastructure, and protecting the public. Our respect for privacy does not have to come at the expense of public safety.”