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As GDPR Turns One, U.S. Companies Ask, "Are We Next?"

A significant portion of Internet users through their actions are telling companies that they want to exercise more control over their personal data. Now that even more countries around the world are embracing GDPR style regulations, one big global tech giant in the United States is saying the time has arrived for the U.S. to have a federal law similar to that in Europe and other countries. ALSO: IBM Watson's AI is now available for use in agriculture and weather; AI is growing but so is user distrus; IoT impact is expected to grow significantly in the next six years; Microsoft continues to push their cross platform impact with new services for MacOS; and GitLab now supports Docker Containers on Windows.

It's time for the United States to join the European Union, Brazil, China, India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand in passing legislation that allows its citizens a greater degree of control over their personal data collection and use, wrote Julie Brill - Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft. Brill's blog post was published to coincide with the first anniversary of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. The post cites a growing demand for control over personal information:

The ever-growing number of people using our privacy dashboard is a clear sign that people want to be empowered to control their data. Since GDPR went into effect, more than 18 million people from around the world have used our tool to manage their personal information. The highest level of engagement, both on a per capita basis and in absolute numbers, continues to come from the United States where about 6.7 million people have used the dashboard.


No matter how much work companies like Microsoft do to help organizations secure sensitive data and empower individuals to manage their own data, preserving a strong right to privacy will always fundamentally be a matter of law that falls to governments. Despite the high level of interest in exercising control over personal data from U.S. consumers, the United States has yet to join the EU and other nations around the world in passing national legislation that accounts for how people use technology in their lives today.

Brill for federal legislation that upholds a fundamental right to privacy, requires greater accountability and transparency in how companies use the personal information they collect, places accountability obligations on the companies that collect and use sensitive personal information, and includes strong enforcement provisions.

Until the U.S. Congress acts on a nationwide level, there's always state law. On January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will go into effect. It's the first state data privacy law and gives Californians the following rights:

  • They have the right to corporate disclosure of how their personal data is being collected and used.
  • They have the right to access personal information that is collected.
  • They have the right to request personal information be deleted.
  • They have the right to know how their personal information is being shared and with whom.
  • They have the right to  opt out of the sale of their personal information.
  • They have the right to equal service and price, regardless of whether or not they share data.

What's giving tech companies pause is the scope of the act. The CCPA applies to any company that does business in California or has customers that reside in California and meets one of the following criteria:

  • The company earns more than $25,000,000 a year in revenue.
  • The company makes at least 50% of its annual revenue from selling personal consumer data.
  • The company annually buys, receives, sells or shares personal consumer data of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices.

In a tech landscape where edge computing and IoT is on the rise, the CCPA could have far-reaching consequences. 

Related: More users worldwide are refusing to share location data with apps — As TechRepublic reports, "Globally, the opt-in rate for the sharing of location data fell nearly two percent overall despite massive increases in certain sectors, showing that users are more aware of which apps really needed certain data."


IBM launched two tools aimed at extending AI into new, non-desk-bound markets: Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture and Weather Signals. Both products use artificial intelligence and data analytics for advance planning, from crop management to supply chain optimization.

AI assistants making phone calls so people don't have to is a promise put forth by Google Duplex -- but 73% of people surveyed by B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch say they don't trust the technology just yet. More than 8 in 10 people (81%) want AI voice technology such as Duplex to declare itself as a robot before proceeding with a call, suggesting that there is a fundamental distrust of how AI and voice interfaces can be used. Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that its AI can now generate realistic-sounding human speech using only 200 training samples, and Samsung announced AI technology that can produce video footage of someone based on a single still photo of them.

The Internet of Things industry may have an economic impact of more than $11 trillion by 2025, reported IoT platform Particle. Among the most popular uses right now: remote monitoring (78%), preventative maintenance (55%), and asset tracking (33%).

One of the biggest chokepoints for AI training and deployment is data quality: in order for machine learning and AI to be effective, the training data must be voluminous, as well as accurately labeled and annotated. For 96% of companies trying to unroll an AI strategy, data quality issues hamper the projects. According to a report conducted by Dimensional Research, 78% of AI/ML projects stall at some stage before deployment as a result of poor data.

GitLab 11.11 was released, providing new support for Docker containers on Windows. The new release enables the use of Docker containers directly on Windows, similarly to if they were on Linux hosts.

Microsoft continued its multiplatform strategy, rolling out a version of its Edge web browser for macOS and announcing that Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac is now in open public preview.

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