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The End Of American Digital Exceptionalism?

The End Of American Digital Exceptionalism?

There are negotiations afoot that could soon affect hundreds of billions of dollars in cross-border trade – and guess what: it’s got nothing to do with NAFTA or the escalating trade fight between the US and China. Next month, officials from Washington and Brussels will sit down to review the state of the US-EU Privacy Shield, a data-sharing pact between the US and the European Union that underpins more than $260 billion of annual digital trade between the two regions.


This year’s review is likely to be contentious. Privacy Shield is what allows US companies to handle the personal data of EU citizens, despite US privacy protections not technically being up to snuff under the EU’s strict data rules. Europe isn’t happy with how things are going.

Washington’s lack of progress appointing key privacy officials, the US decision to renew the government’s electronic surveillance authorities without safeguards for EU citizens, and this past spring’s Cambridge Analytica fiasco are all sore points in this year’s review.

The debate over Privacy Shield highlights a broader problem: The US is one of the only major economies that doesn’t directly regulate the flow of information across its borders (as the Europeans do for privacy concerns, and the Chinese and Russians do for reasons of national security). It’s a kind of American exceptionalism that is nearing its sell-by date. US consumers have grown more concerned about privacy following a string of high-profile data breaches and revelations about social media’s role as a conduit for disinformation. A growing number of executives in Silicon Valley, members of Congress, and some in the Trump administration are worried about a confusing and expensive patchwork of data regimes, or fear the US risks becoming a rule taker as other countries like Brazil hew to Europe’s stricter approach.

As the US belatedly wakes up to the need to do more, the fight over who should be regulated and how could get messy. Better data protections would restore the balance of power between the internet giants that profit from personal data and the people who supply it. But rules that force companies to take greater precautions or give users greater control over how firms can use their sensitive data could also make it harder for the next generation of innovative internet companies to compete against industry leaders that can afford the extra burdens of compliance.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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62: In a referendum over the weekend, nearly 62 percent of Swiss voters said they wanted to preserve freedom of movement between the European Union and Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU. The right-wing Swiss People's Party had proposed imposing migration quotas at the border, saying that the current frontier is basically a... (okay, they didn't actually say it's a "Swiss cheese" but still).

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on the Navalny poisoning on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Can Europe get to the bottom of Russian opposition leader Navalny's poisoning? And if so, would it change anything?

One has got to the bottom of it, to certain extent. The evidence, there was a German laboratory confirming nerve agent, Novichok. They sent it to a French laboratory and the Swedish independent laboratory, they came to the exact same conclusions. I mean, it's dead certain. He was poisoned with an extremely poisonous nerve agent coming from the Russian state laboratories. Now, there is a discussion underway of what to do. I mean, the Russians are refusing any sort of serious discussions about it. Surprise, surprise. And we'll see what actions will be taken. There might be some sort of international investigation within the context of the OPCW, the international organization that is there, to safeguard the integrity of the international treaties to prevent chemical weapons. But we haven't seen the end of this story yet.

Watch as Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, explains what's going on in technology news:

Would Facebook actually leave Europe? What's the deal?

The deal is that Europe has told Facebook it can no longer transfer data back and forth between the United States and Europe, because it's not secure from US Intelligence agencies. Facebook has said, "If we can't transfer data back and forth, we can't operate in Europe." My instinct, this will get resolved. There's too much at stake for both sides and there are all kinds of possible compromises.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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