Tech Companies Step Up Data Privacy Lobbying Efforts

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When it comes to new privacy rules that technology companies are expecting to face, the likes of Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft have become more aggressive in trying to shape them in the U.S.

According to a report in The New York Times citing administration officials and the companies, technology companies in recent months have been lobbying officials within the Trump White House to begin crafting a federal privacy law. The law would overrule the California law and put in place less stringent rules that would give the tech companies more leeway in how they use personal data from their customers, reported The New York Times. Dean Garfield, president of  the Information Technology Industry Council, told the paper that it is “committed to being part of the process and a constructive part of the process. The best way is to work toward developing our own blueprint.”

The idea to get more aggressive in calling for one federal law gained momentum among the tech companies during the spring, when a realization set in that California’s proposal about protecting consumers’ digital data could indeed become law. In May, during a board meeting for the Information Technology Industry Council, Joe Kaplan, the top lobbyist for Facebook, said the California proposal threatened the industry and that fighting that should be the number one priority, reported the paper. Kaplan warned the California proposal could spread to other states and become a regulatory mess.  At that point, the tech companies came together as it became clear that a federal rule would be better.

While Facebook and Google had been gearing up to fight all the potential new rules, they became less resistant about a federal law — granted they were involved in the crafting of it. “There has been a complete shift on privacy,” Chris Padilla, vice president for government and regulatory affairs at IBM, told the NYT. “There is now broad recognition that companies that were resistant to privacy rules can no longer just say no.” Meanwhile, in a statement to the paper, Google said: “There are renewed efforts to define the privacy legislative frameworks of the future, and we look forward to working with policymakers around the world to move the process forward.”

The White House is expected to have an outline of what the privacy rules may look like by the end of 2018, but that timeline could be pushed back given there are a lot of government agencies involved in the crafting of the rule, noted the report.



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