California Officials And Advocates Propose Expanding Privacy Law

The ad industry has made no secret of its dislike for California's new privacy law, slated to take effect next year.

The California Consumer Privacy Act has already prompted some ad groups, including Interactive Advertising Bureau and Association of National Advertisers, to advocate for something the industry has long opposed -- a federal privacy law. The major ad organizations have also asked California lawmakers to weaken the law.

But some California officials have other ideas. This week, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced a bill that would make the law a lot less friendly to the industry.

The new California measure currently gives consumers the right to learn what information has been collected about them by companies, the right to have that information deleted, and the right to prevent the sale of that data. The law also allows requires companies to take reasonable data-security measures.

The bill in its present form only allows residents to sue over data breaches caused by a company's failure to implement reasonable security.

But the new proposal by Becerra and Jackson would also allow consumers to sue companies that fail to provide consumers' with their information, don't honor requests to refrain from selling the data, or violate other provisions of the privacy law.

Separately, California Assembly member Buffy Wicks unveiled a new proposal that would require companies to obtain consumers' opt-in consent before using or sharing their personal data with others. The measure would also explicitly prohibit companies from charging higher prices to people who don't want their personal information used or shared.

Not clear yet whether either measure will advance. But both seem to reflect people's increasing distrust of tech companies -- a distrust fueled by scandals like Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of data from Facebook users, as well as fears that data is being used to discriminate against people.

When Wicks unveiled her proposal, she specifically referred to some recent ad-targeting controversies.

“Whether it's a company that places an ad on a popular search engine that targets men for higher paying jobs and excludes women, to data-driven ads on social networking sites that exclude people of a certain race from seeing ads for a new housing development, or mortgage lenders that target black and Latino consumers with high interest rates for borrowing, we must act to further protect our citizens from these types of potential abuses,” she said Wednesday.

Wicks' proposal has already drawn the support of a broad coalition of civil rights groups, including the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Consumer Federation of America.

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