Apple, IBM Call for More Regulation of Digital Data

In the wake of the latest Facebook (FB) data scandal, executives at some of the world’s largest technology companies are calling for more regulation pertaining to how personal data is used.

During the three-day China Development Forum 2018 last week, Apple (AAPL) Chief Executive Tim Cook took to the stage and called for “well-crafted” regulation to ensure users data is better protected. “It’s clear to me that something, some large profound change is needed,” Reuters quoted Cook as saying during the event. “I’m personally not a big fan of regulation because sometimes regulation can have unexpected consequences to it, however I think this certain situation is so dire, and has become so large, that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.” (See more: Facebook Valuation Plunges to Lowest Since IPO.)

Cook’s comments come as Facebook is reeling from the latest scandal in which it revealed over a week ago that Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that worked on President Donald Trump’s election campaign, got access to the data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission. It was then reportedly used to target the people during the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election. That has resulted in a huge backlash with inquiries being launched both in the U.S. and the UK. Facebook’s stock has plummeted as a result, erasing billions of dollars in market valuation for the leading social media network operator. Lawmakers want Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, to testify before Congress to explain how the data ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica. (See more: Facebook Stock Pressured on #DeleteFacebook Trend.)

Tell People About Data Use

During the same event in China, International Business Machines (IBM) Chief Executive Ginni Rometty said there has to be a clear way people know what’s going on with their data. “If you’re going to use these technologies, you have to tell people you’re doing that, and they should never be surprised,” Rometty said, according to Reuters. “(We have to let) people opt in and opt out, and be clear that ownership of the data does belong to the creator.”

China, too, has been wrestling with data privacy issues and has been enhancing its own rules and regulations after some technology companies, including Baidu, the Internet search giant, and Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Alibaba (BABA), made mistakes with users data, noted Reuters. Baidu Chief Robin Li said at the same event that China has been picking up enforcement of laws designed to protect personal data. “I think the Chinese people are more open, or less sensitive about the privacy issue. If they are able to trade (privacy) for convenience, safety or efficiency – in a lot of cases they are willing to do that,” said Li, reported Reuters.

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