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U.S. lawmakers call for privacy legislation after Reuters report on Amazon lobbying

Stock MarketsNov 22, 2021 10:46PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign hangs from a fence at Metropolitan Park, the first phase of new construction of Amazon's HQ2 development, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 13, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque 2/2

By Chris Kirkham and Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) - Five members of Congress called for federal consumer-privacy legislation after a Reuters report published Friday revealed how Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) has led an under-the-radar campaign to gut privacy protections in 25 states while amassing a valuable trove of personal data on American consumers.

"Amazon shamefully launched a campaign to squash privacy legislation while its devices listen to and watch our lives," U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who has been involved in bipartisan negotiations on privacy legislation, wrote Friday on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR). "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."

The revelations underscored the need for bipartisan action on stronger privacy protections, he wrote. No major federal privacy legislation has passed Congress in years because members have been deadlocked on the issue.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has introduced several privacy bills in recent years, said in a statement that the Reuters story showed how companies including Amazon are "spending millions to weaken state laws," and hoping Congress will also water down federal legislation "until it's worthless."

"Congress needs to prove Amazon wrong, and pass legislation that finally stops massive corporations from abusing and exploiting our personal data," Wyden said.

Asked for comment, Amazon did not directly address the lawmaker criticisms of its lobbying campaign against privacy protections. The company reiterated its statement for the previous Reuters report, saying it prefers federal privacy legislation to a "patchwork" of state regulations. The company said it wants one federal privacy law that "requires transparency about data practices, prohibits the sale of personal data without consent, and ensures that consumers have the right to request access to and deletion of their personal information."

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who chairs a key House consumer protection subcommittee that deals with privacy issues, said the Reuters revelations show how Amazon is working to block consumer privacy legislation while "claiming to support" such regulations.

"What they mean is that they support privacy legislation that protects their profits and their right to mine consumers' data, including voice recordings and facial scans," she said in a statement. "Congress is not convinced nor are we intimidated."

Two other lawmakers who represent areas with a significant Amazon presence - U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat - also said Reuters' findings showed the need for federal action to protect consumers.

"Congress will protect consumers' privacy to stop big tech companies from stealing Americans' personal information, whether these companies like it or not," Blackburn said in a statement.

U.S. lawmakers call for privacy legislation after Reuters report on Amazon lobbying
 

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Comments (3)
Gordon Abby
Gordon Abby Nov 23, 2021 5:21PM ET
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Amazon is the Best
Tom Scurlo
Tom Scurlo Nov 22, 2021 10:51PM ET
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I don’t know about this. If it’s senile Blumenthal thats pushing this, what are the Dems hiding. Or is this a backdoor way for the dems to get more of our personal data or spemding habits. I don’t trust the Gov or Amazon!!!!
karl hungus
karl hungus Nov 22, 2021 10:51PM ET
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sounds like both parties want to do something sensible for a change and strengthen privacy laws for consumers however the devil always lies in the details so if it's another excuse for more social spending then the skepticism is justified but if legislation focuses on privacy in an effective manner then bravo to these legislatures! The reality is that it will be a mixed bag that half-heartedly deals with some narrow aspects of privacy protection so not to pass off a corporate jaugernut like Amazon and some token legislation with "privacy" in the title to appease constituents but leave Amazon enough space to maneuver and so Amazon wins, the Legislators can claim a victory and hold up a piece of presumably popular legislation as evidence of doing their job, all the while knowing that nobody is going to actually read the legislation to know what it contains and thus the only lower here as usual is the people (because we are stupid) that is what these politicians are counting on.
karl hungus
karl hungus Nov 22, 2021 10:51PM ET
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*are the people
karl hungus
karl hungus Nov 22, 2021 10:51PM ET
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ignorant self-absorbed public largely distracted by fear perpetuated by the same government regarding a pandemic or foreign enemy and coupled with an addiction to materialism and consumerism which is how Amazon became what it is today and like magic politicians, seemingly allergic to integrity commit larceny with the people's money, assault out basic freedoms, deceive and misreprepresent the truth and the best we can do is replace one theif and liar with another...
karl hungus
karl hungus Nov 22, 2021 10:51PM ET
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yeah "vote or die" well at least death is honest about what it is and what it's intentions are...
karl hungus
karl hungus Nov 22, 2021 10:51PM ET
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The last great civilization ran into the same issues of moral decay, corruption, and the violation of its citizens and what happend? Time to do a refresher on the Roman Empire because nothing ever changes...
Fred Smith
Fred Smith Nov 22, 2021 10:54AM ET
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and you thought your Alexa / Siri was harmless
 
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