California Legislature Passes Most Sweeping Privacy Protection in Country

AB 375, the California Consumer Privacy Act bill, was unanimously passed by the California State Senate 36-0 and the California Assembly 69-0. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown and will go into effect in 2020.

The action staves off a bruising campaign involving tech giants Google, Verizon, AT&T and Facebook who were prepared to spend by some accounts $100 million to defeat the privacy initiative that by all accounts, gives consumers more control over the collecting and sharing of their data.

California Consumer Privacy Act Tenets

The initiative received 625,000 signatures, almost twice the number required for an initiative to be included on the California ballot.

Three principles served as the basis of the ballot initiative:

  1. The right to know what personal information is being collected;
  2. The right to know what personal information is being sold and/or shared with third parties as well as the identity of those third parties; and
  3. The right to request that their personal information no longer be sold (i.e., the right to opt out).

In addition to the consumer rights above, businesses would be required to provide notice through their privacy policy regarding whether personal data is sold and instructions for opting out of the selling or sharing of this data.

Legislature Flexibility

One of the dynamics with the legislature passing the bill is it brings more flexibility to change the bill. Had it gone to the voters in November, it would have taken another initiative to amend any portion of the law. Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego noted this, “technologies change and we need the flexibility to change with the industry. This bill is a great path because it allows flexibility that the initiative doesn’t provide.”

Cynics may argue that the big tech companies of today are the winners, because now they can wield control of the legislative process and pull back protections before the bill goes into effect in 2020.

Cynics may argue that the big tech companies of today are the winners, because now they can wield control of the legislative process and pull back protections before the bill goes into effect in 2020.

Optimists may celebrate the uncharacteristically bipartisan recognition of California’s constitutional protection of the individual right to privacy, which was unanimously codified by legislators from both sides of the aisle.

OK Google, how will this legislation affect our history?