California voters are likely to pass a ballot initiative that will both expand the scope of the state’s privacy laws, and create a new regulatory agency to enforce them. Proposition 24 had 56 percent of the vote as of November 4, but is expected to hold that lead as ballots continue to be counted.
“With tonight’s passage of Prop 24, the California Privacy Rights Act, we are at the beginning of a journey that will profoundly shape the fabric of our society by redefining who is in control of our most personal information and putting consumers back in charge of their own data,” said Prop 24 sponsor and Californians for Consumer Privacy Chair Alastair Mactaggart.
Prop 24 closes some of the loopholes in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which went into effect in January after getting passed back in 2018. The original law gave California citizens the right to know when their personal information is being stored, and allowed them to exercise a degree of control over how that information is being used. Most notably, citizens can opt out of collection systems to prevent private companies from selling their personal data.
The updated law creates explicit protections for biometric data, and for data that concerns race, health, religion, and location. It also takes enforcement out of the hands of the state’s Attorney General’s office. Instead, enforcement responsibilities will be passed to a new, state agency with a $10 million budget dedicated to that purpose.
Prop 24 is poised to pass despite the opposition of the ACLU’s California chapters. The organization noted that the law still forces Californians to opt out of data collection instead of making privacy the default, and that it could lead to pay-for-privacy schemes thanks to an exception that allows businesses to charge a higher rate to people who do opt out.
Supporters have nevertheless argued that CCPA can serve as a template for the rest of the country as states look to increase privacy protections. The Electronic Frontier Foundation had previously asked California lawmakers to strengthen the CCPA to prevent companies from taking advantage of contact tracing programs during the COVID-19 crisis.
Source: The Verge
November 5, 2020 – by Eric Weiss