Coordinated industry lobbying is overwhelming the scattered efforts of consumer groups and privacy-minded lawmakers. From a report: In late 2019, Utah state senator Kirk Cullimore got a phone call from one of his constituents, a lawyer who represented technology companies in California. “He said, ‘I think the businesses I represent would like to have some bright lines about what they can do in Utah,'” Cullimore told The Markup. At the time, tech companies in California were struggling with how they could comply with a new state law that gave individual Californians control over the data that corporations routinely gather and sell about their online activities. The lawyer, whom Cullimore and his office wouldn’t identify, recounted how burdensome his corporate clients found the rules, Cullimore remembered, and suggested that Utah proactively pass its own, business-friendly consumer privacy law.
“He said, ‘I want to make this easy so consumers can make use of their rights and the compliance is also easy for companies.’ He actually sent me some suggested language [for a bill] that was not very complex,” Cullimore told The Markup. “I introduced the bill as that.” What followed over the next two years was a multipronged influence campaign straight out of a playbook Big Tech is deploying around the country in response to consumer privacy legislation. It’s common for industries to lobby lawmakers on issues affecting their business. But there is a massive disparity in the state-by-state battle over privacy legislation between well-funded, well-organized tech lobbyists and their opposition of relatively scattered consumer advocates and privacy-minded politicians, The Markup has found. During the 2021 and 2022 Utah legislative sessions — when Cullimore’s bill made its way through the legislature — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft collectively registered 23 active lobbyists in the state, according to their lobbying disclosures. Thirteen of those lobbyists had never previously registered to work in the state, and some of them were influential in shaping Cullimore’s legislation.
Just because he’s dead is no reason to lay off work.