Commentary

Advocate Mactaggart Joins California Privacy Enforcement Board

California's Privacy Protection Agency, which is currently crafting new regulations regarding the collection and use of state residents' data, got a new board member this week -- Alastair Mactaggart.

Mactaggart, a real-estate developer and founder of the organization Californians for Consumer Privacy, helped bring about California's laws -- both the original California Privacy Protection Act, and the 2020 California Privacy Rights Act, which strengthened the original measure. He was appointed to the board by California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The Privacy Protection Act is currently in force, and the Privacy Rights Act will take effect next year. Taken together, the measures aim to give consumers the right to tell companies not to share their information for a host of purposes, including online behavioral advertising.

California's attorney general currently enforces the law, but next year the Privacy Protection Agency will also have enforcement authority.

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To date, the agency's most attention grabbing action has probably been to oppose the proposed federal American Data Privacy and Protection Act -- even though that bill is in some ways more stringent than California's law. The federal bill (at least in its current form) would prohibit companies from collecting or processing data about individuals' online activity across sites and over time -- effectively outlawing a form of online behavioral targeting.

But the federal proposal also overrides many state laws -- including the bulk of California's bill.

The House Energy and Commerce committee voted in favor of the federal bill this year, but the measure has since stalled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) suggested recently that she won't support the federal bill because it overrides most provisions of Califorina's law.

On Thursday, Mactaggart characterized the federal bill as a threat, stating: “There are real threats out there, whether it’s businesses not taking privacy seriously enough, or proposed federal legislation (the American Data Privacy & Protection Act) that would preempt all of California’s hard-won privacy protections, and deprive 40 million Californians of many vital rights.”

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