Sunday, February 5 2023

When regulators squabble, who loses? Everyone. Regulatory disharmony is real, folks—and so far, we don’t see signs of the trend waning.

We recently examined the lack of harmonious regulatory policy towards cryptocurrency platforms. This dynamic, of course, isn’t unique to crypto: Complaints asking for consistent consent requirements across the European Union prompted the European Data Protection Board to adopt cookie consent guidelines.

The EDPB also responded the same way they always respond, by…wait for it…announcing a new taskforce.

The taskforce will almost certainly zero in on the Companies Formerly Known as FAANG. Big tech has been collecting data privacy missives from every regulator who’s paying attention—the European Commission, EDPB, Austrian data protection authority, Norwegian authority Datatilsynet, Irish Data Protection Commission, French CNIL, U.S. FTC, CFPB, and state attorneys general.

And yet, we think the most important story of the hour isn’t what regulators will or won’t do about Facebook, Google, Meta, Alphabet, and friends. We’re focused on the downstream effects: How do inconsistent cybersecurity directives affect other companies, especially midsized firms, which have historically been lightly regulated?

As they say, sometimes you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Chairs of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission said they are eyeing changes to privacy and cybersecurity policy—oh, and NIST also has a couple hundred pages of updated guidance to add the privacy and security discussion.

So, who’s next in the firing line, beyond large tech firms? For starters, if the SEC has anything to say about it, hedge fund and private equity firms will start to see a lot more scrutiny.

A stronger focus on third-party service providers is also likely, and this won’t be limited to a handful of cloud giants. This week, SEC Chair Gary Gensler suggested new cybersecurity regulations will affect service providers such as investor reporting platforms, fund administrators, index providers, custodians, and others.

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