Five US lawmakers have called for federal laws to protect consumers’ privacy after a Reuters report released last week revealed how Amazon.com Inc spearheaded an undercover campaign to eliminate data protection in 25 states while collecting a valuable trove of personal data from US consumers.
“Amazon shamefully launched a campaign to squash privacy legislation while its devices listen to and watch our lives. This is now the classic Big Tech move: deploy money and armies of lobbyists to fight meaningful reforms in the shadows but claim to support them publicly,” tweeted U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is very active in privacy legislation.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has recently written numerous privacy bills recently, said the Reuters story shows how companies like Amazon are “spending millions to weaken state laws,” and hoping Congress will also water down federal legislation “until it’s worthless.”
Rep.Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who chairs a vital House subcommittee on consumer protection that focuses on privacy issues, said the Reuters story only shows how Amazon is doing its best to stop consumer protection legislation while “claiming to support” these regulations.
The revelations underscore the need for bipartisan action on stricter privacy rules. No major federal data protection law has passed Congress in recent years as members remain deadlocked on the issue.
Two other lawmakers representing states with significant Amazon presence – U.S. Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and U.S. Democrat Representative Suzan DelBene of Washington – also stressed the need for federal action to ensure consumer protection.
So far, Amazon has not responded directly to criticism of its privacy lobbying campaign. However, the tech giant has previously stated that it prefers federal privacy legislation to a “patchwork” of state regulations. It also favours a federal privacy law that requires transparency about data practices, prohibits the sale of personal data without consent, and ensures that consumers can request access to and deletion of their personal information.