By Yoko Kubota
HONG KONG--Global companies are grappling with different data-privacy rules in individual markets, said Glenn Fogel, chief executive of online travel company Booking Holdings Inc.
The situation pushes up costs for companies like Booking Holdings, whose users are often on the move, he said. His company has personal data on travelers who use its services to purchase plane tickets, book hotels and rent cars.
"You have different parts of the world, different legal jurisdictions are coming up with different rules," Mr. Fogel said at The Wall Street Journal's WSJ Tech D.Live conference. "That makes it really hard for a global player. Especially when you have customers who are going to all these different jurisdictions. Which ones apply? How do you do it?"
Different data-privacy plans have emerged in major economies in recent years and it isn't likely that they will converge soon. That has left multinational companies scrambling to be in compliance.
In May 2018, the European Union started enforcing its General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a strict law with new rights for individuals and higher fines for violators. In the U.S., California passed a law in 2018 which broadens the definition of personal information and gives consumers the right to prevent their data from being sold. That law is set to take effect in 2020.
In China, where the government tightly controls the internet, a sweeping cybersecurity law went into effect in 2017. Various measures and standards have fleshed it out--some are still being drafted--including rules on how personal data should be collected and stored. This week, China released a draft plan outlining how cybersecurity authorities must conduct a security review of personal data before it can leave the country.
These different plans raise questions about what personal data must stay in a country and what can be sent overseas. Mr. Fogel said this also adds to confusion for businesses.
In China, Booking Holdings invested $500 million in ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing Technology Co. and $450 million in Meituan-Dianping.
Consumers used to rely more on search engines to find information, but as they have shifted to mobile phones, Booking Holdings has been thinking about how to connect with them in new ways and is making these investments, Mr. Fogel said.
"What we are doing is reaching out other ways to reach consumers instead of just going through Google," he said.
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