IBM CEO Joins Apple in Blasting Data Use by Silicon Valley Firms

IBM CEO Joins Apple in Blasting Data Use by Silicon Valley Firms

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IBM CEO Ginni Rometty joined a growing chorus of tech executives lambasting web platforms over their collection of user data and urged governments to target regulation, according to Bloomberg.

Without naming company names, Rometty pointed to the "irresponsible handling of personal data by a few dominant consumer-facing platform companies" as the cause of a "trust crisis" between users and tech companies, according to an advanced copy of her remarks. Her comments, given at a Brussels event with top EU officials, echoed recent statements by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who in October slammed Silicon Valley rivals over their use of data, equating their services to "surveillance."

The comments by the tech executives come as both Facebook and Google are under intense scrutiny by lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe over privacy breaches and election interference on their platforms. Seeking to separate IBM from the troubled tech companies, Rometty said governments should target regulation at consumer-facing web platforms, like social media firms and search engines.

“The power dynamic is very different in the business-to-business markets," Rometty said. "Tackling the real problem means using a regulatory scalpel, not a sledgehammer, to avoid collateral damage that would hurt the wider, productive and more responsible parts of the digital economy.” In particular, Rometty pushed for more measures around the transparency of artificial intelligence as well as controversial rules around platform liability.

Tech firms like Google and Facebook have typically pushed back on any plans to give platforms more legal liability over what people post or upload on their sites, arguing it could lead to restrictions on free speech. "Dominant online platforms have more power to shape public opinion than newspapers or the television ever had, yet they face very little regulation or liability,” Rometty said. "On liability, new thinking is needed."

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