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CCC statement on the impact of 5G on regulation

The adoption of the Internet of Things and the highly anticipated rollout of very fast 5G networks raise a number of concerns. As a consumer advocacy group, the Consumer Choice Center believes that the issues of consumer privacy and data security haven’t been emphasised enough to date. The key interests of consumers include not only low prices and quick adoption of valuable new technologies but also privacy and data security. Therefore, we are convinced that privacy and security should be prioritised over other issue areas and should be addressed in an urgent yet smart and consumer-friendly fashion.

National governments’ desire to field next-generation 5G networks is being tempered by their growing concern over the security pitfalls created by the overreliance and dominance of untrustworthy vendors in the supply chain for 5G technology. The importance of a secure 5G is evident as governments across the European Union are currently undertaking comprehensive assessments of their exposure and risk to security vulnerabilities in the supply chain.  

Some manufacturers and software developers tend to be mostly concerned about low prices and those aspects of their products that consumers immediately appreciate. However, they should be reminded that consumers also have strong interests in privacy and data security. We believe that there is a need for a smart policy response, that would incentivise market players to give sufficient weight to consumer data security but also achieve that goal without undue market distortions and limiting of consumer choice. In our recent policy note, we laid out some of the possible policy solutions.

While potential threats to national security are serious, pursuing a strategy of brinkmanship risks elevating geopolitical concerns at the expense of an opportunity to enact comprehensive standards for 5G. National governments and industry must reinforce their commitments to the principles that gave consumers a thriving global technology sector in the first place: open markets and choice for ICT products and services. Safeguarding consumer privacy and security requires a coordinated framework to facilitate vendor diversity.

Since consumer privacy and data security are highly significant, it is essential that the consultation process adopts a consumer-focused approach. The Consumer Choice Center has been successful in leveraging the expertise of our distinguished research fellows to develop and promote policy solutions to safeguard consumer interests in cyberspace. We would be delighted to contribute to the ongoing debate around the adoption of 5G to ensure the interests of consumers are not left behind.

About the Consumer Choice Center (CCC): 
The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, consumer goods, and health & science.

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