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Big tech is lobbying hard against state privacy laws

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Reports earlier in 2018 confirmed an ongoing multi-year trend that is seeing US tech giants spending record amounts of money on lobbying in Washington DC – even to the point of surpassing major traditional corporations.

Yahoo Finance is now reporting that this effort is not limited to the power center in the US capital, but is instead more widespread and carried out at the state level, too – and, it appears, rather strategically.

According to the report, citing an investigation carried out by the media outlet and the documents its reporters have had access too, this type of lobbying is taking place “in at least 13 states” – and these campaigns are targeting bills designed to protect user data and privacy.

At the same time, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are declaring themselves in favor of “a nationwide law that protects user data,” Yahoo Finance writes – adding that the Big Tech argument is that such legislation would be easier to properly implement and offer more consistent protections.

However, their critics – that include privacy groups and local lawmakers – suspect the real goal behind this policy is to get rid of effective privacy and data protections at the state level, like California’s Consumer Privacy Act modeled after the EU’s GDPR and set to come into effect in January 2020.

The critics seem to be implying that tech giants don’t want to hunt down separate pieces of data protection legislation scattered across US states, but would rather have these regulations gathered in one place, where they could fight them more efficiently.

According to the article, since it was passed in 2018, the California legislation has inspired about 25 other states to attempt and introduce similar consumer protections.

But tech giants reacted to these stirrings heavy-handedly, lobbying the proposed bills into the ground in 13 of these states. In the rest of, the efforts died before reaching the stage where the lobbying, at least that publicly traceable, kicks in – namely, a committee hearing.

Bills similar to the one in California passed in only two states – Maine and Nevada – and the one in Nevada only after an amendment crafted by the tech industry was incorporated into it, the investigative report said.

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