Business Roundtable Vice President Denise Zheng today offered key insights to Senators about the economic implications of international policies related to the internet and digital platforms. In a hearing focused on “The Internet and Digital Communications: Examining the Impact of Global Internet Governance,” Zheng said in her written testimony to the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation:
“Recently there has been a rapid increase in the number of complex, conflicting, and uncoordinated [information and communications technology] public policies from governments around the world. This trend undermines global digital innovation and trade by creating policy and regulatory fragmentation, business uncertainty, overwhelming compliance costs, and other unintended consequences.”
Zheng, who oversees technology and innovation policy at Business Roundtable, detailed in her testimony the impact on U.S. innovation and competitiveness of international information and communications technology (ICT) policies, including data localization, cybersecurity, and privacy.
On fragmentation of international policies, Zheng noted:
“Governments have a responsibility to develop ICT policies that provide for national security, protect public safety, and ensure individual privacy. But too often, countries are defining security, privacy, and safety in an overly broad manner, resulting in a wide array of laws and regulations that erect barriers to an interoperable and open global internet.”
On data privacy regulation, she said:
“The risk of domestic regulatory fragmentation within the United States for privacy is also high. In addition to several existing sector-specific federal and state privacy regulations, California recently passed a consumer privacy bill that applies broadly across many sectors. Numerous other data privacy legislative proposals are pending in state legislatures that, if passed, would further increase the complexity of privacy regulations across the United States. That is why Business Roundtable is working to develop privacy principles that strengthen protections for consumers but also preserve innovation in the digital economy.”
Providing policy recommendations, Zheng stated:
“Congress has an important role in creating and fostering a global policy environment for an open, interoperable, and global internet and to promote the continued economic growth of the digital economy.”
Zheng offered four Business Roundtable policy recommendations to help accomplish this goal: 1) Establish alliances with like-minded countries to counter protectionist ICT policies, 2) Lead in development of international norms, best practices, and standards for ICT, 3) Seek to align or harmonize requirements to avoid global fragmentation, and 4) Protect transatlantic cross-border flows.