Google’s top policy chief has called for “common rules of the road” globally when it comes to the regulation of technology, amid ongoing debate around the world on how to create legislation for the internet economy.
Karan Bhatia, vice president of global public policy and government relations at Google, said that while a one size fits all approach to regulation would not work, he would welcome some “convergence” of regulation globally.
“Some coordination on this, some level of collaboration, I think is going to be absolutely critical. We are very supportive of international efforts on multiple fronts to sort of create that level of dialogue and ideally common rules of the road,” Bhatia said during a CNBC-hosted panel at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday.
“I think it would be extremely helpful if there was some convergence,” he said.
Governments around the world are trying to figure out how to regulate technology from data and privacy to taxation. But there is a fragmented approach. The biggest piece of legislation has been the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which governs all companies operating in the 28 European Union member states.
But other countries have gone their own way. In the U.S. for example, the state of California wants to introduce its own privacy laws in the absence of any federal regulation. China has its own entirely separate rules particularly around censorship of content.
There’s a growing consensus toward regulation from policymakers in part because of the backlash against huge technology companies that many view has having grown largely unchecked in the past few years. One of the biggest episodes that raised awareness about data privacy was the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal in which millions of profiles on the social network were harvested for data.
Major technology executives have appeared in front of lawmakers in the past few months to talk about their data collection practices including Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
In the U.S. where legislation could be fragmented due to various state-level laws, Bhatia called for a federal approach.
“We’re actually very supportive of comprehensive privacy legislation,” Bhatia said.
Other major players in the technology industry, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, have also said they back federal privacy laws.
On the panel at the World Government Summit, Margaret Peterlin, senior vice president of global external and public affairs at AT&T, also called for a “convergence” of laws for technology firms and called for federal legislation.
“Yes we’d like to see federal legislation and part of the reason why is it’s really important to provide consistency,” Peterlin said.