Surveillance Versus Privacy, with International Companies Caught in Between

Governments and the international business community are currently embroiled in a conflict over the appropriate balance between individual privacy and legal government surveillance. As a result, major IT companies are asking for a new multilateral agreement to provide common rules of the road.

International companies and governments must consider how to resolve issues such as backdoors that permit surveillance by local authorities, encryption, localization of data storage, and the transfer of citizens’ personal data across national borders.

The international community must work together to achieve a multilateral agreement for what constitutes legal surveillance and what ensures protection of individual privacy, while considering the potential actions of countries such as China and Russia. Potential adversaries—including China and Russia—will be watching closely and doubtless claim the right to impose mirror-image demands on companies of all nationalities operating within their own economies.

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