Amazon And AT&T Join With Fellow Tech Giants In Calling For Federal Consumer Privacy Safegaurds

Shaun Williams
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This is not investment advice. The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. has a disclosure and ethics policy.

Representatives from some of the world's largest tech companies told Congress today that they believe stronger consumer data privacy law is needed.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) sent its associate general counsel, Andrew DeVore, to tell US Representatives that any potential future regulations should actually accomplish the goal of enhancing privacy while at the same time foregoing any unnecessary requirements. Amazon's lawyer warned of the "unintended consequences" of consumer data protection legislation comprised of vague or overly broad language. As an example, he asked, "what does personal information mean?".

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AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) have both publicly pushed for a federal outline in terms of potential regulation; both equally favor a unified federal approach versus a state-by-state patchwork of consumer privacy laws. At the end of the day, it's probably cheaper for any company to follow one set of rules rather than 50.

Hawaii Democrat Senator Brian Schatz said that tech companies view preemption of state laws as a “Holy Grail,” but advised them they were “only going to get there if this is meaningfully done.”

Tim Cook has long been a proponent of privacy regulations

Bud Tribble, an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)vice president who leads Apple’s privacy software engineering team, had the following to say in terms of what that privacy means: "Allowing users to control how their information is used, if it is shared, who it is shared with, and why."

“When we do collect personal information, we are specific and transparent about how it will be used. We do not combine it into a single large customer profile across all of our services,” Tribble remarked. “We strive to give the user meaningful choice and control over what information is collected and used.”

The message is largely similar among the big tech guys. Their core points focus on giving consumers both more insight into which data is mined as well as control over how their data is collected and used. Its also generally agreed upon by the companies that preemption of state law, such as California's is favorable. The message begins to differ in bits and pieces when it comes to comparing what software/hardware makers are saying versus internet companies, and again the scope of protections differs in talking points seen from telecoms.

What would you like to see if the government drafts up data privacy law?


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