On Tuesday, Microsoft president Brad Smith announced that Europe was the global leader on setting rules for big tech, two years after the EU implemented the GDPR, its landmark data privacy law.
Smith spoke at an online debate with European Commission vice president Vera Jourova, the top EU official who was in charge of the data privacy rules when they became reality in 2018.
Brussels introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to give people more control over data and their privacy settings.
The rules also gave EU regulators the ability to fine and punish internet actors — including Google, Facebook, or Uber — who broke the rules on protecting personal data.
Smith said during the debate hosted by the Brussels-based CERRE think tank that “I do continue to see the trends from Brussels being the most influential in the world. Even when you look at something like the Australian law last year … it was clearly influenced by a lot of thinking that had been taking place for a couple of years in Brussels.”
GDPR is seen as a major accomplishment by EU officials and Jourova underlined that the law made it easier to develop tracing apps to fight a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, despite concerns over privacy.
She also added that GDPR “is based on the value that my identity is something I cannot sell and I have to have a 100 percent guarantee that my privacy and my identity are protected. Through the principles of GDPR, you (are) more assured that the tracing apps will not go beyond what we want in an emergency.”