Top U.S. executives call for an America-wide privacy law

CEO’s of some of America’s biggest data-using companies have urged U.S. lawmakers to implement a national data privacy law.

The 51 executives say this will protect their businesses from state privacy laws and defend consumer privacy.

The bosses signed an open letter from the trade group Business Roundtable, that was sent to Congressional leaders.

Business leaders joined forces to make the request from companies such as Amazon, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Dell, General Motors, IBM, Qualcomm and Salesforce and all want the privacy legislation to be fast-tracked into law.


Critics however claim the bosses merely want a soft America-wide law to protect them from tough privacy laws set by individual states.

A lot of businesses make money by selling customers’ personal data to online advertisers. A privacy framework with too many teeth could prevent companies from selling on certain types of data.

A few states, such as California, have decided to implement their own privacy laws.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) for instance, is due to be rolled out in January next year.

Business Roundtable (BRT) is a non-profit association based in Washington, whose members are chief executive officers of major U.S. companies. Unlike the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose members are entire businesses, BRT members are exclusively CEOs.


Business Roundtable outlined several suggestions on how national privacy should be addressed, including protocol for data breaches and uniform privacy practices for all companies.

In their letter, they said: “Consumers should not and cannot be expected to understand rules that may change depending upon the state in which they reside … Now is the time for Congress to act and ensure that consumers are not faced with confusion about their rights and protections based on a patchwork of inconsistent state laws. Further, as the regulatory landscape becomes increasingly fragmented and more complex, U.S. innovation and global competitiveness in the digital economy are threatened.”


When the GDPR was introduced in Europe, global businesses were forced to comply with tougher privacy laws.

But as is seen with the CCPA, different nations and states are moving to introduce their own rules, creating an increasingly fragmented landscape of privacy legislation.

Research carried out by Gartner, found that by June this year, several states had introduced draft laws similar to the CCPA in scope and impact. Those laws would apply to 40 per cent of the total US population.

The CEOs are concerned that a patchwork of differing privacy regulations that are currently being passed in multiple US states, and by several US agencies, will have dire consequences for consumer privacy in the U.S.


They want to see a cohesive privacy law that gets rid of the current sporadic privacy regulations which is creating problems for their companies.

They must comply with an ever-increasing number of laws across different states and jurisdictions, which they claim, causes a multitude of problems.

Instead, they are calling for one law that governs all user privacy and data protection across America, which would simplify data management, product design and compliance.

The Business Roundtable has also released its Framework for Consumer Privacy Legislation which provides a detailed roadmap of issues it wants to a federal consumer privacy law to address.

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