California Privacy Bill Clears Senate Committee

California lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a privacy bill that would allow consumers to learn what personal information is being collected about them and prevent the sale of that data to third parties.

The "California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018" -- a modified version of a bill introduced last year by State Assembly member Ed Chau -- was passed out of the state's Senate Judiciary committee by a 5-0 vote. Lawmakers sent the bill to the appropriations committee.

The news comes the same day that the group Californians for Consumer Privacy announced that a privacy initiative it backs has officially qualified for the November ballot. The group 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 -- but the count was only certified this week.

advertisement

advertisement

Californians for Consumer Privacy now says it will withdraw the ballot proposal, but only if the California Consumer Privacy Act is passed and signed by Thursday.

Other privacy advocates have also voiced support for the legislation that advanced this week, although they consider it a compromise.

The organization Consumer Watchdog says the proposed bill "may not be as strong" as the ballot initiative, but still "gives consumers substantial control over their personal information."

“The ballot initiative, which has enough signatures to be on the November ballot, provided the leverage to reach a compromise that offers meaningful privacy protections,” John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy and technology project director, stated Tuesday.

The ad industry and Silicon Valley have strenuously opposed the ballot initiative. The ad industry groups Association of National Advertisers, Data & Marketing Association and Network Advertising Initiative recently contributed $125,000 toward the opposition. Some of the largest tech companies -- including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Uber -- are also funding a campaign to oppose the ballot initiative.

ANA Executive Vice President for government relations Dan Jaffe said Tuesday that the organization opposes the California bill, which, he said, "has serious defects."

But he added that the ANA believes the proposed bill is preferable to the ballot initiative.

If passed, the California bill won't go into effect until January of 2020. That built-in delay could give opponents of the measure time to lobby for changes. 

Some Silicon Valley companies are already actively campaigning to weaken the proposed bill, according to The Intercept. The industry lobbying group TechNet reportedly is pushing for changes to the proposed legislation, including a change to the definition of "personal information."

Currently, 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.

Next story loading loading..