Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

California data privacy bill passes, heads to governor

Tokyo shows the privacy setting of the social networking app Facebook Brown sends daylight saving measure to November ballot
Sherri Watson | 02 July, 2018, 14:27

As previously reported, just last Thursday California lawmakers announced Assembly Bill 375, "The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018" (the "CCPA"), as an alternative to the California Consumer Privacy Act ballot initiative (the "Initiative").

The California Chamber of Commerce and other opponents, however, said they preferred AB375 to the ballot measure because of the possibility the Legislature could refine it before it takes effect in 2020.

The bill by Democratic Assemblyman Ed Chau gives companies the ability to offer discounts to customers who allow their data to be sold and charge those who opt out a reasonable amount based on how much the company makes selling the information.

Privacy advocates credited the bill's passage to consumer outrage over the plundering of the Facebook data of 87 million people by Cambridge Analytica. It also forces companies to delete that information upon a consumer's request.

The California privacy law is not without its detractors.

GDPR has been in force for a little over a month now and, while companies will still be grappling with the European Union regulation for the foreseeable future, eyes have now turned to California where a new privacy bill has given state residents more control over the data collected on them by businesses. If the initiative is passed, then the Legislature will be virtually unable to amend the law in the future. The deadline to remove initiatives is Thursday.

The law also broadens the definition of what is considered personal, adding extra protections to consumers who are concerned about their privacy rights.

The California bill would not affect four local soda taxes that were passed in the state in recent years. Consumers will have the option of barring tech companies from selling their data, and children under 16 must opt into allowing them to even collect their information at all. Jerry Brown, who promptly signed it.

Here's what went down, as the Sacramento Bee reports: Major beverage companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and their trade organization the American Beverage Association backed a ballot measure in California that would have made it extremely hard to raise local taxes and fees for any reason whatsoever (including non-beverage-centered taxes). Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said that the tight timeline for passing the bill made it impossible to pull together an airtight measure, but that the protections in the measure were better than nothing. Still, supporters were content to celebrate their success in enacting privacy legislation that corporate behemoths including Google and AT&T had successfully fought off in past years.

"While not ideal, we support (the law) and look forward to working with policymakers on an approach that protects consumers and promotes responsible innovation", Will Castleberry, Facebook's vice president of state and local public policy, said in a statement.

A bill signed Thursday by Gov. Lawmakers said that's not the bill's intent.

The Internet Association, an industry lobbying group, expressed concerns about the law, saying there was a lack of public input while it was hurried through the legislative process.

Tech companies and legislators preferred the bill to an initiative because it provides more options for refining the requirements down the line.

However, the Norwegian Consumer Council recently stepped forward with claims that tech firms such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft instituted changes to their user controls that only give consumers "the illusion" of privacy.