Lobbying on data, cybersecurity has tripled

The number of companies, associations and other groups lobbying on data and cybersecurity issues has nearly tripled since 2008, according to a review by Capitol Metrics, a lobbying analytics firm. The number of lobby firms advocating on behalf of clients on data and cybersecurity issues also tripled in the same period.

Between 2008 and 2012, the number of companies, trade associations and other groups lobbying on data or cybersecurity matters climbed steadily from 108 to 321, and dipped slightly in 2013 to 314. Those figures reflect lobbying activity by companies’ in-house lobbyists who listed “data security,” “cybersecurity” or “cyber security” on lobbying disclosure forms.

Between 2008 and 2012, the number of lobby firms that advocated on behalf of clients on data and cybersecurity issues ballooned from 74 to 220, and dropped off slightly in 2013 to 216.

The rise in lobbying activity appears partly tied to corporations responding to high-profile data breaches. Target Corp., Michaels Stores and Neiman Marcus, for example, all hired outside lobbyists within days of disclosing that millions of their customers’ credit card and other personal information may have been compromised by hackers.

Target hired Venable in February to lobby on issues related to the data breach that hit the retailer in December and affected up to 70 million customers. Similarly, shortly after Michaels confirmed that credit and debit card information was stolen from 3 million customers, the retailer tapped Bracewell & Guiliani to lobby on issues related to the breach. It is the first time Michaels has used outside lobbyists since 2010, according to lobbying records. And Neiman Marcus, which had not used outside lobbyists since 2000, hired Brownstein Hyatt in January to lobby specifically on the data breach, paying the lobby firm $180,000 during the first quarter for its work on the issue.

(Capitol Metrics)

“We view cybersecurity as an exciting growth vertical in defense and security markets which are otherwise pressured by budget constraints,” said Steve McBee, president of McBee Strategic Consulting, one of the lobby firms that is doing the most data and cybersecurity work, based on the number of clients the firm did data protection, data security and cybersecurity work for during the first quarter of 2014. “We anticipate that policymaking in this area will be highly active, but also uneven, over the next five years as decision makers in Washington seek to make sense of constantly shifting threat environments and innovation in cyber technology.”

»Capital Business and Capitol Metrics, a data analytics firm specializing in the advocacy sector, have partnered to provide a periodic snapshot of the lobbying industry. Capitol Metrics can be found at www.capitolmetrics.com.

Catherine Ho covers lobbying at The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.

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