May 23, 2019
1 min read

Regulation of data privacy may affect US advancement in AI

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WASHINGTON — Federal regulations regarding data privacy and collection may lead to the United States falling behind countries like China in developing artificial intelligence and neural networks for healthcare, a speaker said here.

A bipartisan effort in the Senate to regulate data collection and privacy has been a point of emphasis this year, with hopes that federal legislation to protect consumers would be passed by the fall, Alison Pepper, senior vice president of 4As, said at the Rising Leaders Conference on Healthcare Policy.

However, the states have already started to pass their own regulations on data privacy, most notably California’s Consumer Privacy Act in 2018, which has prompted Congress and the Senate to accelerate the creation of overarching federal legislation.

“These types of bifurcated, state by state legislative efforts in this area is really a concern that we in this industry have. The potential of having 50 different regimes on how we use data will be an administrative nightmare and a liability nightmare,” Pepper said.

While Pepper said federal legislation is unlikely to be passed by the fall, when a bill is eventually approved, it may have an impact on the United States development of artificial intelligence and neural networks for healthcare.

These technologies require large data sets to be effective. Any regulation of data collection and sharing may seriously impact United States development of technology in this competitive field, Pepper noted.

“The fear with a lot of U.S. regulators and policy makers is the United States will increasingly fall behind China, which has very little restriction on that type of data, and other parties that don’t have as regulated structures around this,” she said.

The states and federal government understand the need for research exemptions, Peppers said, but right now policy is favoring the idea of “individual protection of privacy is more important than the public good.”

“I think we’ll eventually come back to the middle, but this is where we are right now in the cycle,” she said. – by Robert Linnehan

Reference: Pepper A. How Will Data Privacy be Regulated? Presented at: Rising Leaders Conference on Healthcare Policy; May 21-22, 2019; Washington, DC.

Disclosure: Pepper reported no relevant financial disclosures.