Technology and Telecommunication Companies Lobby Congress to Adopt Federal Privacy Bill to Pre-empt California Data Privacy Law

USA Today is reporting that multiple technology and telecommunication companies are lobbying Congress to pass federal privacy legislation that would pre-empt the new privacy law recently passed in California which grants sweeping protections to consumers.  In particular, USA Today reports that Amazon, AT&T, Apple, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications are leading the lobbying effort and argue that inconsistent state laws will “make it tough for companies to operate” and would “threaten innovation.”

Of course, as USA Today reports, the lobbying companies are seeking weaker regulations than exist in the European Union or that were just passed in California, with the sole exception of Apple, which relies on a different business model and was reportedly the only company “at the hearing to argue that the bar for federal legislation should be set “high enough” to protect consumers.”  As The New York Times reported, the goal of the tech industry is to institute federal rules that would give technology companies wide leeway over how personal information is handled.    The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the tech industry’s goal as “neuter[ing]” California for a weaker law at the federal level.

According to The New York Times, however, the tech industry’s efforts are not limited to just federal lobbying efforts.  In fact, The New York Times  reported that lobbying efforts are underway in California as well, and that the California Chamber of Commerce and other business and tech groups have just submitted nineteen pages of bill edits to State Senator Bill Dodd, one of its authors.  In addition, The New York Times reports that the groups are also asking California to delay enactment for a year.

The bottom line is that the tech and telecommunication industries are actively lobbying at both the federal and state levels to ensure that California’s new privacy law never goes into effect in its current form.  Convincing Congress to pass a federal law that they hope to be able to influence and shape has now become the top priority for both industries.

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Kristie Prinz