Why I’m Spending This Week in Washington DC

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Silhouette of US Capitol Building - Washington DC USA

Blacknight, as you know, is a 100% Irish owned and operated company. It’s something we’re proud of and one of the many reasons Irish businesses trust us to provide them with services.

This week, however, I am not in Ireland. I’m not even in Europe. Instead I am in Washington DC  joining other members of the Internet Infrastructure Coalition for a couple of days of meetings on Capitol Hill.

It may seem odd for an Irish company to be investing time, energy, effort and money on Washington DC. But, as I explained previously, it makes sense.  Remember the internet is global. We deal with companies that have clients all over the world, while we ourselves have clients in over 130 countries. Those connections are important. Governments and private industry must work together when it comes to designing internet policies that work for everyone. Getting the balance right, however, is far from easy.

So what kind of topics will we be discussing?

Conversations with government representatives and their staff are always an opportunity to mutually educate each other on what our concerns are.

If you follow some of the discussions that various governments have been involved in recently many of them have an impact on our business.

Topics that have come up in the last year or so include:

  • Privacy – with the GDRP about a year away this is a big issue for European companies or any company with European based clients. Ignore it and you can get hit with massive fines
  • Surveillance – big brother might not be watching you, but governments are capturing a lot of data. While law enforcement and other agencies may have valid reasons for accessing data there should be rules around this.
  • Encryption – yes it is used by “bad people”,  but it’s also the technology that protects all the legitimate transactions and communications that go on online daily.
  • Hacking – both private and state sponsored hacking and other types of cyber attacks are on the rise. Obviously it’s in everyone’s interest to collaborate to deal with this kind of activity, but some proposals could lead to a cyber arms race without any winners
  • Transfer of data – related to the privacy point above. Being able to trade globally means that data needs to be safely transferred from one side of the Atlantic to the other safely.
  • Trade agreements, taxes etc, – internet commerce is global, so it wouldn’t benefit anyone if governments starting imposing tariffs on cross-border trade. Admittedly they already do to a point, but obviously we don’t want them to add to them

It’ll be an interesting couple of days and hopefully productive!

 

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