While US central government has not been keen to turn down Big Tech lobbying money to look the other way and whistle, State Governments have been looking at the protection Europe is offering its citizens and said: “I’ll be having some of that.”
For example, In Europe when Facebook is hacked and loses customer data, it can be fined. In June, California passed legislation that would allow users to sue for damages for exactly the kind of data breach Facebook suffered.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that has thrown Big Tech into a panic.
EFF lawyer Ernesto Falcon said “They don't want to entertain the possibility that they would be liable to individuals for doing some sort of harm from all the data that they collect."
Facebook's top lobbyist, Joel Kaplan, warned that an impending California privacy law posed a threat. If the California law spread to other states, Kaplan allegedly said it would present an even bigger problem than privacy provisions in Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
The companies are working on a preemption clause to ensure federal law trumps any state privacy laws. And they want to put the Federal Trade Commission in charge of enforcing digital privacy laws.
Pre-empting state laws would allow the industry to avoid a patchwork of rules in different states. And tech companies would also get to work with a watchdog they know.
The good side of this is that Big Tech do not see the FTC as particularly aggressive. It does not have authority to make new privacy rules and really could not do much more than put out guides or try to go after people for violating statements that they've made in their privacy policies."
In 2011, the FTC accused Facebook of not living up to its own privacy policies when it shared information it had told users would remain private. The FTC warned Facebook and the company, without admitting to wrongdoing, promised not to do it again. Which it did during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it was discovered that private information of some 87 million Facebook users was shared with the political data firm.
Apple, Amazon, AT&T and Twitter testified before the Senate Commerce Committee about lawmakers' privacy concerns and came out publicly in support of a new federal privacy law, such a law is guaranteed to be less agressive than State Law and would mean that they would not be hit by so many fines when they lose or sell user data.