Amazon, Microsoft, and Uber have made large contributions to a group attempting to prevent a privacy act from becoming law in California. As per state disclosure records, the three tech giants join a number of other well-known companies, including Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Verizon, which are all working against the proposed California Consumer Privacy Act by donating to the Committee to Protect California Jobs.
The proposed legislation would require companies to share the sorts of data they collect on their users, including how they target ads, and would force these firms to give users the option of opting out of having their information sold to the highest bidder. Obviously, this wouldn’t bode well for many tech companies’ revenue streams, and as a result they’re spending plenty to ensure that it doesn’t come to pass.
Amazon and Microsoft recently donated $195,000 each to the Committee, while Uber has offered up $50,000. Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Verizon, on the other hand, have all contributed $200,000, though after Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questions from Congress about Facebook’s privacy practices, Facebook has pledged to withdraw support from the group.
A spokesperson for the tech-friendly group called the privacy act “flawed,” and pointed out that while tech giants are opposed to the legislation, they’re not the only ones. “Credit unions, grocers, and car manufacturers are among the many recent additions to the coalition and are the top of the iceberg,” spokesperson Steven Maviglio noted. He added that the “workability” of the proposal is also problematic, saying, “Anyone who orders anything from Amazon can request where their information went, and that can not only overwhelm a large company like Amazon but also smaller ones too.”
So what exactly are the big tech companies’ reservations about the act? An Amazon representative told The Verge, “While we share the initiative’s overarching goal of protecting consumer privacy, we are concerned by unworkable requirements that would hinder our ability to innovate on behalf of our customers.”
Microsoft echoed these sentiments in a statement of its own: “We believe the California measure could have unintended consequences for both businesses and consumers and that there is a better way to give consumers the privacy rights they deserve.”
But regardless of efforts against the legislation, the Californians for Consumer Privacy Act has already collected the requisite number of signatures needed to appear on the November ballot. That doesn’t mean that it’ll be signed into law, but that it’ll at least be up for greater debate. And given the money already pouring into at least one side of the fight, we’re sure that there’s plenty of drama yet to come in the privacy fight.
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