A group of CEOs from some of America’s largest companies have asked lawmakers to pass a nationwide consumer data privacy law as soon as possible.

An open letter, signed by 51 CEOs from the Business Roundtable, is calling for Congress to agree on a “well-understood legal and regulatory framework” that governs how consumer data is collected, sold and shared.

Published overnight, the letter is signed by technology CEOs including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Micheal Dell, IBM’s Ginny Rommettty, Keith Block, Salesforce co-CEO and Bill McDermott of SAP.  The leaders of large consumer facing businesses such as Walmart, AT&T, Marriott, Target, Ford and P&G have also signed the letter.

“Our companies reach virtually every American consumer and rely on data and digital platforms every day to deliver and improve our products and services. 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 reads.

“We urgently need a comprehensive federal consumer data privacy law to strengthen consumer trust and establish a stable policy environment where new services and technologies can flourish within a well-understood legal and regulatory framework.”

The introduction of Europe’s GDPR has forced global businesses to comply with stricter privacy laws. However different nations and states are moving to introduce their own rules, creating an increasingly fragmented landscape of privacy legislation. For example in the US, California is set to introduce its own state-based data regulation, the CCPA, in January next year.

According to research from Gartner, by June this year a dozen states had introduced draft laws similar to — or in some cases exceeding — the CCPA in scope and impact. Those laws would apply to 40 per cent of the total US population.

The business leaders want to see state rules superseded by a federal law.

“Consumers have grown accustomed to a breadth of resources and services made available over the internet across state borders and even globally. Consumers should not and cannot be expected to understand rules that may change depending upon the state in which they reside, the state in which they are accessing the internet, and the state in which the company’s operation is providing those resources or services,” the CEOs write.

“As the regulatory landscape becomes increasingly fragmented and more complex, US innovation and global competitiveness in the digital economy are threatened.”

The Business Roundtable has also released its Framework for Consumer Privacy Legislation which provides a detailed roadmap of issues it wants to a federal consumer privacy law to address.

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