Inside Cybersecurity

April 17, 2021

Daily News

Under Biden, software group expects harmonization with European allies over privacy and China policies

By Sara Friedman / November 10, 2020

BSA-The Software Alliance is advocating for a renewed focus on international diplomacy during President-elect Joseph Biden’s first term and increased engagement with European partners to reach new agreements on privacy protection.

“There is a lot of conflict in the U.S.-Europe relationship right now on trade, data flows, taxes, privacy, and the U.S. and Europe have largely shared values,” Craig Albright, vice president of legislative strategy at BSA-The Software Alliance, told Inside Cybersecurity. “Taking away some of that conflict by being able to resolve issues and finding additional areas of collaboration is going to be a priority for the Biden administration.”

BSA wants to see a new agreement on international data transfers that will address a European Union Court of Justice ruling from July that found the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield governing data transfers was inadequate to protect the privacy of EU citizens.

“Both the EU and United States are interested in figuring out a way to resolve this but it is going to require some creativity and cooperation,” Albright said.

When it comes to decoupling from China, Albright said the software association also sees increased opportunities to work with European partners while acknowledging more work needs to be done to create a cohesive strategy at the federal level in the United States.

“There will be multiple aspects to China policy that could make it challenging to have clear coherence of message, but we would anticipate a Biden administration having more nuance than the current administration,” Albright said. “There are a blend of policies that can achieve some of the policy goals without specifically pursuing a complete decoupling. It will be interesting for us to see how the Biden administration shifts on that.”

Reaching consensus in Congress creates another challenge in developing a cohesive China strategy, according to Tommy Ross, senior director of policy at BSA-The Software Alliance.

“All of this is tricky because no matter how the Biden administration approaches these issues, Congress has a big say in this as well and Congress has not been entirely cohesive itself,” Ross said. “You have policies already in place and expectations already in place from Congress that will shape how the Biden administration focuses on different aspects of the U.S.-China relationship.”

Congress is already looking at supply chain issues “on a bipartisan basis,” Ross said, while acknowledging some of the “policies and rhetoric” developed by lawmakers “don’t allow for the nuance that we might otherwise expect and need in this area.”

Biden’s experience as a former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shows the depth of his experience working on international diplomacy efforts, Ross said, which will be an asset in establishing “relationship resets” with U.S. allies.

USTelecom is also advocating for a renewed focus in re-establishing ties with “global allies” in a report released Monday outlining its agenda for the first 100 days of the incoming Biden administration and the 117th Congress.

“The U.S. is far and away the #1 global target of cybersecurity threats, most of which originate from countries that are far from friendly to our national interests,” USTelecom says in the report. “The new Administration and Congress must take immediate action to signal that the U.S. will continue cohesive global leadership.”

The report specifically asks for the administration to “signal that the U.S. will reinvigorate its cyber engagement with global allies -- from criminal botnet activity to international standards development for the Internet of Things security, supply chain interoperability and diversification.”

USTelecom also wants Congress and the administration to “quickly convene a senior level industry and government team of technology and policy experts to review the effectiveness of major federal public-private cybersecurity initiatives,” and provide adequate funding to “support American broadband providers by appropriately offsetting their costs to ‘rip and replace’ vulnerable network equipment from domestic U.S. infrastructure.” -- Sara Friedman (sfriedman@iwpnews.com)