By: Shayla L. Aaron
The technology industry has reached incredible new heights in that individuals on opposite sides of the world are able to connect with each other like never before. If you are a consumer that craves a unique piece of art three hundred thousand miles away, you can buy it without having to travel overseas. If you are a gamer that likes to play in tournaments with individuals all over the world, you can do so from the comfort of the couch in your home. The Internet and the cloud are largely responsible for all of these advances, but at what cost to privacy? Retail stores like Target and Neiman Marcus were the victims of a major security breach that affected thousands of customers. The Sony Pictures email security breach is considered the most devastating hack on any U.S. company. Given these destructive outcomes, legislators are faced with the ongoing obstacle of how to control these privacy breaches.
Outsourcing serves as a major privacy concern, especially for American citizens. Credit card companies, accounting firms, and various U.S. government programs are utilizing offshore subcontractors, who have access to their clients’ various personal identification information, which leaves these clients, American consumers and taxpayers, unaware of the identity theft threat. Hospitals are even sending diagnostic radiology work to India without informing patients that a doctor, unlicensed in the U.S., is analyzing the x-rays and diagnosing their illnesses and injuries. What might be even more disturbing is that there is no recourse for overseas misconduct because U.S. laws cannot infringe on foreign land.
Overseas markets face the same outcome in regard to consumer privacy rights. It is difficult to dismiss privacy concerns from foreign leaders when they know the U.S. monitors their phones. Apparent U.S. surveillance has led to a drastic drop in confidence of American Internet companies. Currently, the Department of Justice can force U.S. companies to violate privacy laws of other countries, which sends the message that U.S. companies will not respect the authority of these foreign countries where they have operations. European leaders have proposed a Europe only cloud, which would cause the U.S. to have no control over their communications. If such action comes into fruition, the mobile app industry, such as the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Windows Phone store, would suffer severe financial consequences and be left without a marketplace.
In order to keep the consumer market from falling apart, Congress must address tech industry privacy concerns and ensure that American Internet companies can safely store critical data abroad. Cybersecurity legislation also needs to be passed in order to protect citizens from future identity theft attacks. Overall legislation that protects both the U.S. and foreign markets should be passed in order to alleviate privacy concerns in both markets.
Shayla is a Staff Member of the Journal of High Technology Law. She is currently a 2L at Suffolk Law with a concentration in Criminal Law. She holds a B.S. in Criminology and Psychology from the University of Florida.