If you take a moment to think about it, U.S. tech product managers have actually had it pretty easy. They operate with few restrictions about what they do and the products that they create just seem to collect more and more data about their users. However, this may be all about to change. What’s interesting is that the change is not happening in the U.S. – it’s happening in the EU. These changes may affect everything that these tech product managers do.
Data Privacy Changes Are Coming
Product managers at American tech companies will soon need to update their product development definition in order to meet new requirements in the European Union regarding both artificial intelligence and sharing data with smaller rivals. The bloc is seeking to assert its “technological sovereignty” from the U.S. and China. EU regulators have unveiled plans that will impact products and product managers that are aimed at placing more restrictions on machine learning-enabled technologies in fields ranging from public surveillance cameras to cancer scans and self-driving cars.
The new rules are also likely to home in on what the EU has learned from antitrust cases against Google and ongoing probes into Amazon and Facebook: how these platforms allegedly use data to quash smaller rivals. Product managers at these technology giants are in the firing line of the coming EU legislation. One remedy under consideration by the EU is to oblige platforms to share data with smaller rivals, especially when it comes to consumer behavior regarding the products sold by those competitors. EDiMA which is an industry group representing big platforms including Google, Amazon and Facebook, welcomed the proposals as a “starting point” and said it would engage with the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, to address some of the shared concerns.
New liability rules regarding the content shared on online platforms are also due to be spelled out in the Digital Services Act. The rules will also come with new restrictions for U.S. and Chinese product managers that develop machine-learning-enabled technologies, particularly when they handle sensitive data such as medical records or facial images. Restrictions are likely to be placed on the use of facial recognition tools for tasks such as mass surveillance, to limit the number of individuals targeted. Plans are for human oversight and disclosure requirements on which data sets are used by AI will be put on all companies operating in the EU.
Privacy Next Steps For Product Managers
The motivation for the new rules is because the European Commission said Europe was behind the U.S. and China in terms of consumer-oriented applications and platforms. However, the EU hopes to attract public and private investments of €20 billion ($21.6 billion) a year in a bid to keep up in the industrial and public sectors with the use of big data and AI. The EU recognizes that it missed the first battle, the battle of personal data. Europe has everything it takes to lead the ‘big data’ race, and preserve its technological sovereignty in the future.
Product managers need to realize that going forward if a technology tested in Europe proves to be too opaque or fails to comply with the rules in place, regulators may order the product managers to reboot the AI and make it learn from scratch based on different data before rollout. One measure under consideration by the EU to ensure that corporations comply with their rules is for platforms found guilty of anticompetitive behavior to be ordered to share data with smaller players, so that the marketplace rebounces after anticompetitive behavior. No product manager would want something like that to be on their product manager resume. Another option being considered is ensuring that product managers have access to analytics about the online behavior of their customers – data that is held but not always shared by platforms who host their business.
Product managers in the financial sector have complained that they have data-sharing obligations that big platforms didn’t. Discussions about establishing reciprocity in data-sharing obligations between platforms and the financial sector are at a very early stage. What regulators in the EU have learned is that data is the fundamental issue. Regulating how platforms use data is the natural thing to do, but how this will be done still needs to be defined.
What All Of This Means For You
Product managers who create tech products and services that will be sold in Europe need to be aware that changes are coming. The EU regulators have become concerned about the privacy of the people who are using all of these products and services and so they are considering enacting a number of new regulations. These regulations will impact both how products are sold and how they are used in the EU. The ripple from these changes could spread worldwide. Product managers need to be aware of the changes to their product manager job description that are coming their way.
The regulations that are being considered by the EU impact such areas as artificial intelligence and how data is shared between companies. The EU has recently been involved in lawsuits with both Facebook and Google. What they have learned from these lawsuits will probably find its way into the new regulations. How applications handle sensitive data, especially with regards to medical data, will be tightly controlled. The EU regulators feel as though they missed the battle to regulate personal information and they don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to regulate “big data”. If AI systems are found to be in violation of the EU laws, they may have to be reset. Additionally, firms that violate the new laws may be required to share their information with competitors. There may be additional issues with sharing information with players in the financial sector.
No matter how this all works out, product managers are going to be facing new rules for how they can go about selling and servicing their product in the EU market. The new EU rules are going to impact how products are made and sold in the EU. Additionally, product managers are also going to have to be more careful about the data that they collect from the people who purchase their products. The first step will be to make sure that product managers are aware of what the new rules are. Once they are known, then product managers can start to make changes to make sure that they are complying with them.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™
Question For You: How do you think product managers can prove they are complying with the new EU data rules?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
You might be thinking that there is no good side to a pandemic. However, you wouldn’t be thinking that if you were a product manager who works for the stationary bike company Peloton. Their sales have shot up as more and more people were forced to stay home and could no longer go to the gym to exercise. Their pricy bikes seemed to fill a need in people’s lives. However, all good things have to come to an end. When the pandemic is over, how are these product managers going to keep a good thing going?