Data security and privacy are at the heart of the United States’ competitiveness, according to national security advisor Jake Sullivan.

“The free flow of data with trust and security is critical for the third wave of the digital revolution,” he said, referencing a term used for the latest developments and advances in computer-based technology.

“Our strategic competitors see big data as a strategic asset. And we have to see it the same way,” he commented at the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s Global Emerging Technology summit in Washington DC this week.

For the US to benefit from the digital revolution and maintain its worldwide technological leadership, the nation must promote its values, he argued.

“Some of this is about investment in technologies, like privacy-preserving machine learning, or PPML, that promise to overcome data privacy challenges while still delivering the value of big data,” he told his audience.

“Some of it is about getting back on the front foot when it comes to setting the technology standards of the future.”

He said the Biden administration is working with allies and partners in the private sector, civil society and academia to bolster the integrity of international standards organisations on patents, technology development and integration. The aim is for democracies to gain traction and drive outcomes rather than the coercive or nationalistic efforts of autocracies in those bodies.

“We are also pushing back on authoritarian abuses of digital tools within and across borders to surveil, censor or harass human-rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists and diaspora groups who are on the front lines in defence of democratic values,” Sullivan added.

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