With the continued rapid growth of both technological innovations and the market power of the companies spurring these innovations, calls for greater regulation and enforcement of companies in the technology sector are only growing louder. However, the same question continues to be asked – “how can governments regulate businesses they don’t fully understand?”
During a recent interview with the Privacy Advisor, a blog series hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), Iowa Attorney General and President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Tom Miller echoed this sentiment. Specifically, he noted that a significant obstacle facing the AG community in enforcing privacy, data security, and consumer protection laws has been the fact that “most attorney general offices do not have the resources to have a full-time technologist on staff.” As such, efforts to regulate complex, novel, and highly technical areas such as artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency – all rife with privacy and consumer protection concerns – have been hamstrung by incomplete and imperfect information. Moreover, this comes as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the other chief regulator of the technology sector, is increasing its focus on the need to bolster its technical chops, with a specific emphasis on hiring more technologists.
In an effort to further strengthen its enforcement capabilities, NAAG recently announced the formation of the “Center on Cyber & Technology.” In the press release announcing the development of the center, NAAG stated that the center will assist state attorney generals (AGs) in: (i) understanding technical aspects of emerging and evolving technologies; (ii) conducting cybercrime investigations and prosecutions; (iii) and ensuring secure and resilient public and private sector networks and infrastructure. Additionally, the center is also intended to serve as an “information clearinghouse” for the AG community, facilitating the sharing of information, insight, and expertise regarding emerging technology issues.
With the establishment of this center, the hope is that the AG community will be better equipped with the support and resources needed to both understand and address the technology-related issues at the heart of an increasingly digitized economy. Moreover, by facilitating the collective power of the states through this centralized platform – which will streamline information sharing, training, and cooperation – the states will better position themselves as effective stewards of technology related enforcement. Accordingly, the technology sector, long accustomed to innovating ahead of regulation, should be prepared to contend with a robust and technically adept regulatory approach – at both the FTC and AG’s offices – going forward.