Ad Industry Blasts New California Privacy Proposal

A new privacy proposal in California is "premature" and would impose "considerable new costs" on businesses, the ad industry said Thursday.

“We oppose Proposition 24 because the initiative would not only fail to provide meaningful new protections for Californians but would also impose considerable new costs on a business community that is still working to implement the California Consumer Privacy Act ... as well as weather substantial economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation and other groups state.

The organizations' statement comes one month before California residents will vote on the Consumer Privacy Rights Act -- a ballot initiative aimed at strengthening the state's new privacy law.

The California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect this year, gives consumers the right to learn what personal information about them is held by businesses, request deletion of that information, and opt out of its sale. The state attorney general began enforcement in July.

The 52-page Proposition 24 would revise that law in several ways. Among others, the new measure would make it harder for companies to use data about race, ethnicity, health, or finances for advertising.

The ad organizations argue the initiative is premature, given that the state's current privacy law has only been enforceable for several months.

“California’s citizens, policymakers, and businesses have had only a limited -- and insufficient -- time to evaluate the effects of the new data requirements posed by the CCPA, and to understand how this new law will impact citizens and the California economy,” the groups state.

They also call ballot initiative outdated, because it was proposed before the state had finalized the CCPA's regulations. Additionally, the groups say, the ballot initiative circumvents the typical legislative process.

Privacy advocates are divided about the proposed initiative.

The California NAACP and Common Sense Media are among the groups that are backing the measure, while the ACLU of California, Consumer Federation of California and Center for Digital Democracy are among the opponents.

The prominent digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation -- which did not officially endorse or oppose the initiative -- argued that the proposal doesn't go far enough.

"It is a mixed bag of partial steps backwards and forwards,” the organization said in July.

The group raised several concerns, including that the new initiative would still allow companies to collect a great deal of information about consumers by default.

“EFF advocates for an opt-in model of data processing, where businesses cannot collect, use, share, or store our information without first getting our explicit consent,” the organization writes. “Privacy should be the default, particularly when it comes to ensuring consumers have control over how their information flows into a complicated data ecosystem.”

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