Axios.com notes it’s been a “tough year for the industry on the privacy front,” fueled by the public reaction to Facebook’s handover of the personal data of 82 million members to the political research company Cambridge Analytica.
The Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington trade group that represents major tech companies, has organized the all-day meeting.
Along with Facebook, Google, Apple, IBM and Microsoft, members of the council include Samsung, Dropbox, Salesforce, Intel and Qualcomm.
Dean Garfield, ITI CEO and president, told Axios that tech companies are aware there’s a new sense of urgency around consumer privacy.
“My experience is that they’ve always viewed privacy as a foundational principle, but the question of how do you give meaning to it and talk about it in a way that resonates is now something that’s more pressing,” he said.
Axios pointed to recent developments such as Europe’s new strict and sweeping privacy rules and California lawmakers’s attempt to pass a privacy bill before a major privacy initiative ends up on the November ballot.
The Trump administration also is considering creating a framework for how companies can use and share consumers’ online data.
Garfield pointed out that unlike Europe’s sweeping approach, the U.S. has generally handled privacy rules on a sector-by-sector basis.
“Just because Europe has taken a comprehensive approach doesn’t mean our different approach is deficient,” Garfield said. “And just because Europe is early doesn’t mean it’s best or final. But we should always be thinking about how we evolve to make sure consumers have trust in our products.”
Axios comments that “it will be very difficult to get such a diverse group of companies to reach consensus about privacy, which has become incredibly complicated in the internet era, as companies with different business models want different standards. This process will extend far beyond this week’s meeting.”
Facebook revealed earlier this month it has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing giant that has a close relationship with China’s government and has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat.
The social-media company also confessed this month that an estimated 14 million users worldwide had their default sharing setting for all new posts set to public for a period of four days.