California Privacy Bill Could Replace Ballot Initiative

Backers of a California ballot initiative aimed at boosting privacy say they will withdrew the initiative if state lawmakers pass a new privacy law this week.

The proposed "California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018" -- a modified version of a bill introduced last year by State Assembly member Ed Chau -- would give state residents the right to know what personal information is being collected about them, whether the information is sold, and the right to opt out of having the data sold. The Attorney General would be tasked with enforcement.

The proposed measure defines personal information as data that identifies consumers or "could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly" with a consumer or household. The definition includes not only names, email addresses and IP addresses but also "electronic network activity information" like browsing history and search history. It also includes "probabilistic" identifiers.



The proposed law is being supported by the group Californians for Consumer Privacy -- the organization behind a ballot initiative that also would give state residents the right to prevent data about them from being sold. Backers of the ballot initiative recently submitted 625,000 signatures in favor of the initiative -- almost twice as many as the 365,880 needed to qualify for a spot on November's ballot. Supporters include the Consumer Federation of California, search engine Duck Duck Go, Consumers Union and the Center for Public Interest Law.

The ad industry and many Silicon Valley companies oppose the ballot initiative. Three industry organizations -- the Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association and Network Advertising Initiative -- recently donated a combined $125,000 to a group opposing the proposal. Other companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Uber have also donated money toward the opposition.

Californians for Consumer Privacy said last week that it will withdrew the initiative if the new proposal is enacted before June 28.

"If the bill passes before next week’s deadline to withdraw, we will withdraw our initiative," the organization stated. "If it doesn’t, we will proceed to the November election.  We are content either way, as we feel that both the legislative solution, and our initiative, provide tremendously increased privacy rights to Californians."

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