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Amazon, IBM, Salesforce CEOs Call for Federal Consumer Data Privacy Law

Chief executives of 51 companies, including IT stalwarts Amazon, Dell, IBM and Salesforce, signed a letter to U.S. congressional leaders calling for federal data privacy legislation to protect consumers and a national privacy framework that fosters innovation and growth.

“We write to urge you to pass, as soon as possible, a comprehensive consumer data privacy law that strengthens protections for consumers and establishes a national privacy framework to
enable continued innovation and growth in the digital economy,” the letter reads.

The cross-industry Business Roundtable CEO signees, which also included the heads of AT&T, Bank of America, General Motors and SAP, addressed the letter to House and Senate leaders along with House chairs and ranking members of the Energy and Commerce committees and Senate chairs and ranking members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committees. In the letter, the CEOs asserted that consumers should have “meaningful rights” over their personal information and that companies accessing that data should be held “consistently accountable” under a federal privacy law.

Notably absent from endorsing the September 10 letter was Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been a vocal supporter of data privacy measures. Cook has previously stumped for a federal privacy law.

The Business Roundtable Framework for National Consumer Privacy Legislation is based on input from companies and business leaders across multiple industries. The document outlines key issues a national privacy law should address and provides a set of consumer rights, including the rights to transparency, control and access and to correct and delete their personal data. It advocates for a national consumer privacy law that should:

  • Champion consumer privacy and promote accountability.
  • Foster innovation and competitiveness.
  • Harmonize regulations.
  • Achieve global interoperability.

“Our companies reach virtually every American consumer and rely on data and digital platforms every day to deliver and improve our products and services,” the CEOs wrote in the letter. “Consumer trust and confidence are essential to our businesses. We are committed to protecting consumer privacy and want consumers to have confidence that companies treat their personal information responsibly.”

While a number of states, most prominently California, have consumer data privacy protections of one degree or another written into law, there is still no overriding federal law to safeguard personal information. California’s Consumer Privacy Act, the most comprehensive pro-consumer privacy legislation in the U.S., is slated to take effect on January 1, 2020. The impending law gives the state’s 40 million residents the right to require a business to disclose the types of personal information it collects on the consumer, where that information is collected and whether it’s being sold or shared, and to opt out of the whole thing.

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