Excerpted from CNBC By Lauren Feiner
CEOs of 51 companies from the Business Roundtable, including Amazon, IBM and Salesforce, signed a letter to U.S. congressional leaders Tuesday urging them to create “a comprehensive consumer data privacy law.”
The executives, who span a range of industries, said a federal law is necessary to ensure “strong, consistent protections for American consumers” and allow “American companies to continue to lead a globally competitive market.” The letter was addressed to leaders of the House Energy and Commerce committees and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committees, in addition to House and Senate leaders.
“As Chief Executive Officers of leading companies across industries, 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.”
The letter comes as lawmakers have been more closely scrutinizing Big Tech over its data practices. The Federal Trade Commission recently issued two major fines to Google and Facebook over their handling of user data. And on Monday, 50 attorneys general from U.S. states and territories announced an investigation into Google’s advertising business, which heavily relies on data. With this new message, tech leaders are offering their help in forming legislation that could regulate their own industry.
“We urgently need a comprehensive federal consumer data privacy law to strengthen consumer trust and establish a stable policy environment in which new services and technologies can flourish within a well-understood legal and regulatory framework,” the CEOs said in the letter. “Innovation thrives under clearly defined and consistently applied rules.”
The CEOs who signed the letter represented a subset of the Business Roundtable, a group of top executives from U.S. corporations. The group made headlines last month when nearly 200 members signed a statement disavowing shareholder value as the primary focus of a corporation, marking a major shift in business philosophy. Instead, the executives said other considerations, such as investing in employees and dealing ethically with suppliers, should become key business goals.
Notably missing from Tuesday’s letter to congressional leaders was Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been a vocal supporter of data privacy measures. Cook advocated for “a comprehensive federal privacy law” in the U.S. during a speech at a privacy conference in Brussels last year.