US Tech Companies Working With Regulators To Shape New Privacy Laws

U.S. technology companies, anticipating that they will face increased regulation in how they handle consumers’ data, are working with policymakers to potentially shape the new legislation that’s expected to come from the federal government.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, technology companies and groups such as the Information Technology Industry Council — which represents the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and — are working with the White House to shape the legislation. The Journal noted that the legislation should include some of the things that the tech companies are urging.

The legislation is expected to “almost certainly pre-empt state regulation of online privacy,” such as California, which has adopted new privacy laws that are some of the toughest in the country. The tech companies are concerned that state rules won’t be in lockstep with other states, which would create a headache when ensuring they stay within regulations.

The new U.S. legislation is expected to be less stringent than in California, as well as the new rules in the European Union. One rule, which is facing opposition from Republicans, but should go through, is limiting the ability for consumers to file private lawsuits over violations. If Democrats take over both the House and the Senate, that could change.

The Wall Street Journal noted that federal legislation will likely be passed on to the Federal Trade Commission to craft. The bill is expected to include legislation that sets new standards for stopping consumer data breaches, and current laws that impact sensitive media and educational data won’t change.

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook said it is “working with policymakers to craft privacy legislation that protects consumers, ensures people are in control of their information and promotes responsible innovation.” Meanwhile, Google declined to comment.

A senior administration official told the Journal that Commerce Department officials have had talks with a range of industries and consumer groups about privacy and data protection. “The goal of this outreach is to formulate a set of principles that enjoy broad support, with the objective of setting high-level goals for protecting privacy while promoting prosperity,” the official said.