IBM executives press U.S. lawmakers not to adopt EU privacy law

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(Bloomberg) -- More than 100 IBM executives will descend on Capitol Hill this week with a simple message for policy makers: don’t bring Europe’s new privacy regulations to the U.S.

The Armonk, New York-based technology giant is making a sweeping new European privacy standard a top talking point in its conversations with lawmakers during the company’s annual trip to Congress.

The officials from International Business Machines Corp., who were scheduled to meet with about 200 members of Congress and staff members yesterday and again today, are going to tell lawmakers the U.S. needs its own privacy framework and shouldn’t adopt the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect on May 25.

“GDPR may work for Europe, but that doesn’t mean it should become a global standard,” Christopher Padilla, IBM’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, said in an interview.

The GDPR imposes tougher rules for how data collectors gather and use European citizens’ personal information, including addresses, credit card numbers and web search history, and lets consumers have more control over their own data.

In a blog post on Monday, IBM argued that the U.S. government should instead partner with industry groups to craft a new data privacy framework “tailored to America’s needs.”

The company proposes mimicking a similar effort made by President Barack Obama’s administration when the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the U.S. Commerce Department, worked with industry to develop a voluntary cybersecurity framework.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Padilla said. But “we don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach works necessarily here.”

Bloomberg News