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Moffett during a 2017 appearance on C-SPAN. Screenhot: C-SPAN

The tech industry is "one crisis away" from seeing significant privacy legislation out of Congress, according to well-known media and telecom analyst Craig Moffett.

Why it matters: Moffett, founding partner of MoffettNathanson Research, said lawmakers aren't yet motivated enough to act, despite Facebook's data scandal. "If there's another crisis, all bets are off," he said. "I think it's easy to imagine there will be one eventually. But right now, I don't think we're there yet."

He said the right path for Congress is still far from clear.

"I think people conceptually agree that customers should own their own data, but when you get down to it, does that mean a customer should have a portable social graph, and you really try to operationalize that? That's very tough, and I think that's probably well beyond what you can expect Congress to be able to come to an agreement on."
— Craig Moffett told Axios in an interview on C-SPAN's "The Communicators" program

Across the pond: Still, the General Data Protection Regulation going into effect in the EU next moth will be closely watched by U.S. regulators as companies move toward adopting a "global standard" when it comes to privacy.

  • Moffett said that, while the strict regulation is well-intentioned, it could have unintended consequences by giving a leg-up to the biggest platforms, Google and Facebook.
  • Since the coast of complying with the complicated rules is quite high, it may "increasingly force advertisers to concentrate their advertising dollars on those companies that they can be quite sure are compliant, which, again, are likely to be Google and Facebook and the largest companies."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.