A lobbying group backed by tech companies including Apple, Google, Meta (Facebook), and Amazon has reportedly backed weaker privacy legislation in the U.S.
According to Axios (via 9to5Mac), tech lobbying group State Privacy and Security Coalition (SPSC) promoted an upcoming state privacy law in Utah as the model that other U.S. states should adopt. However, critics have called Utah’s legislation too weak.
Specifically, Axios reported that consumer groups said the Utah bill wasn’t clear about how much control consumers would have over whether their information was used for targeted advertising. Moreover, the groups said the bill’s enforcement mechanism is weak.
Utah lawmakers considered and passed a state privacy bill in under two weeks. The bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature. Utah is set to become the fourth state with a privacy law, joining Colorado, Virginia, and California. 9to5 notes that California’s law is more along the lines of Europe’s GDPR.
States have begun stepping up to introduce privacy laws and regulations while the federal government’s attempts to do the same languish in Congress. However, there’s an incentive for a single, federal law over multiple state laws since it’s easier for tech companies to comply with one law instead of 50 individual laws. Moreover, one effective law is easier for people to understand.
Axios says that Iowa is considering a similar bill to Utah, and other states are also weighing their own privacy bills. Although the SPSC told Axios it’s trying to help align state privacy laws in the absence of federal law, it’s concerning that the lobbying group has chosen to promote alignment around weaker regulations.
Also concerning is Apple’s involvement, given the company’s strong messaging about its privacy commitments — commitments that may not actually help consumers that much.
Although U.S. state and federal regulation won’t apply to Canadians, it’s important to follow how the U.S. approaches privacy legislation as it could become a blueprint for other countries. On that note, Canada is in the process of updating some of its own tech legislation, including Bill C-10 and C-11. However, critics say C-11 doesn’t go far enough in curtailing tech companies’ ability to gather data on Canadians.