Lawmakers jump start privacy talks

Lawmakers are working through the August recess to cobble together legislation on data privacy after missing a deadline they set to unveil a bill before the summer break.

Advocates for a federal data privacy standard are feeling a time crunch as they fret over the limited number of days left in this session and the upcoming 2020 elections.

Most importantly, California’s strict new privacy law is slated to take effect in January, raising the stakes for lawmakers who were hoping to pass a federal law before the stringent state-level rules go into place.

“We’re waiting with bated breath to see what will come out of these discussions,” said Heather West, senior policy manager at privacy focused tech company Mozilla.

August is known as prime time for staffers to buckle down in their legislative discussions as they’re no longer bogged down by daily votes and hearings.

Industry watchers told The Hill that this month, they’re mainly paying attention to the ongoing negotiations between Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member of the tech-focused Senate Commerce Committee.

Wicker and Cantwell began negotiating directly after the Washington Democrat earlier this year backed away from a larger Senate privacy working group, which includes other members on the Commerce Committee.