California passes bill to move toward consumer privacy protection in a GDPR world
Tech companies threw money in opposition to the bill when it was proposed.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed his approval of a digital privacy law, The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, Thursday with unanimous support from state legislators. The bill, which passed before its deadline on Thursday, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Tech companies are not onboard and are mounting opposition.
Legislators recognized that the California Constitution was amended in 1972 to declare that its constituents have a right to privacy and the amendment "established a legal and enforceable right of privacy for every Californian," according to the legislation.
The bill is GDPR-like and would "grant a consumer a right to request a business to disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal information" it collects as well as how the data is collected, the purposes of collecting or selling data, which third parties are given the data. The bill would also give consumers the right to request deletion of their data and opt out of a sale of their data.
The new law recognizes California as "one of the world's leaders in the development of new technologies," so the bill retains some anomalies from GDPR, including the "Spotify exemption," said California Senator Robert Hertzberg, D, in a statement to Wired. The exemption allows businesses to offer a variety of services depending on what information consumers provide them, reports Wired. Hertzberg and assemblymember Ed Chau, D, proposed the bill.
Facebook, Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon collectively contributed to a $1 million fund to oppose the Ballot Initiative, that was set to be on the ballot in November, according to records from California's Secretary of State and a Committee to Protect California Jobs sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce.
But in April, Facebook rescinded its opposition, soon after the social media giant began dealing with backlash from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company is no longer contributing funds in opposition, but it already donated $200,000 like each of the other four opposing companies.
The bill will face rounds of amendments that will need to survive legislators but companies are willing to contribute to the changes. The bill is "not perfect" yet, but Facebook will be "working with policymakers on an approach that protects consumers and promotes responsible innovation," said Will Castleberry, Facebook's VP of state and local public policy, in a statement to Wired.
But the law's jurisdiction is unclear as it could pertain to consumers and companies on a national level. The bill requires companies to follow the GDPR-like requirements. But unlike GDPR, which makes it clear that it impacts companies outside of Europe, the California bill is hazy as to who it impacts.
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