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A Patchwork of Privacy Laws in the USA and the Battle Over Encryption Continues

We reported recently on a proposal to introduce a Federal privacy law in the USA. A number of States, principally California and a couple of others have applied their own local privacy laws for some years, but now there are 5 new state privacy laws coming into effect this year and 19 states actively considering new bills. If no Federal law is adopted the future of American privacy could end up as an expensive patchwork of 50 or more different laws, where an individual’s privacy rights would vary depending on where they live. Is this important for ecommerce businesses selling into the USA – yes, because the rules on how you collect, process and store your American customers’ data may differ depending on the local state laws.

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies continue to attack Apple’s encryption policies, in particular about its new end-to-end encryption protections for iCloud, arguing more warrant-proof encryption compromises their ability to protect the global public. When talking to The Washington Post, an FBI spokesperson even called for “lawful access by design” effectively to put a backdoor in otherwise secure products and services. The FBI is not alone in wanting encryption weakened, as proposals like the EU’s draft CSAM law and the UK’s Online Safety Bill also threaten end-to-end encrypted services. Encryption advocates argue these proposals are ripe for abuse and would harm online privacy and security.

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Alastair Tempest

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