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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

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.