Telecom industry to throw fundraiser for Senate chair the night before data privacy hearing

The telecom industry will be hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) next week, the night before he will preside over a hearing on data privacy, according to an invitation obtained by The Hill.

Wicker, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is slated to attend the Tuesday fundraiser at the Capital Grille restaurant. The event is being hosted by the political action committees for AT&T and the trade group USTelecom.

{mosads}According to the invitation for Tuesday’s fundraiser, which will be supporting a group backing Wicker’s reelection called RFW PAC, it costs $1,500 to attend the event as a guest, $2,500 to attend as a sponsor and $5,000 to co-host.

The next day Wicker’s committee will hold its first hearing of the new Congress on crafting comprehensive data privacy legislation — a key issue for the telecom industry.

Among those testifying is Jon Leibowitz, a former FTC chairman under the Obama administration. Leibowitz is the co-chair of the 21st Century Privacy Coalition, a lobbying group funded by the telecom industry that in 2017 helped lead a lobbying push to get Congress to overturn a set of Obama-era privacy regulations governing internet providers.

The hearing’s witnesses will also include representatives from Silicon Valley and the advertising industry, but no privacy or consumer advocates.

Following a string of data scandals, lawmakers of both parties have voiced support for negotiating a bipartisan internet privacy law governing the use and collection of user data. But such a bill has yet to take shape, and the telecom industry is among the many interests hoping to craft the legislation in its favor.

A spokesperson for Wicker did not immediately respond when contacted by The Hill for comment.

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