California Legislature Condemned by Internet Group for Going Too Far on Privacy

The Net Coalition is a

trade association of eCommerce businesses and online consumers all of whom share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.

Its members include the Super Powers of the Internet – AOL, eBay, Expedia, Facebook, Overstock, Verisgn and Yahoo!  It periodically publishes its iAWFUL list of “ugly” internet laws that highlight various bills being considered in state capitols across the country.  What is unusual is that in the latest edition of iAWFUL is its listing as #1 on its ugly list is the California Legislature. As their website explains:

California’s legislature pursued nine separate privacy bills targeting the heart of the state’s world-leading tech industry.  It almost seems as if California legislators are competing for the honor of chasing their golden goose out of the Golden State.

The offending bills fall into several categories:

Bills that would make it harder to keep services free

  • iAwful faults AB 257 for creating “unprecedented limitations on how mobile apps can monetize their free products.”  The bill (which has not had any major action taken on it) would require that

[the privacy policy] identify the uses and retention period for each category of personally identifiable information, and to describe the process the operator maintains allowing an individual consumer to review and request changes to any of his or her personally identifiable information. The bill would also require the operator to use reasonable security safeguards to protect personally identifiable information from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction, and to describe these safeguards in its privacy policy. There has been no major action on the bill.

Bills regulating privacy policies:

  • AB 242 limits privacy policies to 100 words, an interesting proposition considering that the bill itself is over 500 words long.
  • SB 501 would implement the right to be forgotten by social media sites.  Specifically it would require

    that a social networking Internet Web site shall remove the personal identifying information (PII), as defined, of a registered user, as defined, that is accessible online in a timely manner upon his or her request.” 

    The bill has passed the Senate.  The Assembly committee analysis’ is below,

Bills limiting retail stores’ advertising ability:

  • AB 319 would prohibit supermarket’s from using emails to advertise its weekly specials to under aged recipients if it includes ad for liquor.

Bills conflicting with other laws:

  • AB 370 would inject California into the current federal debate over Do Not Track, by requiring an operator of a commercial website “to disclose how the operator responds to Web browser “do not track” signal”.  The bill sailed though the Assembly and is about to be approved by the Senate.

The most controversial bill by far has been Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)’s Right to Know consumer privacy bill.  The bill currently is on hold following an intense lobbying campaign by the tech industry.  Lowenthal may revisit the issue in January.

Lowenthal’s bill, A.B. 1291, provides that

This bill would require any business that has retains a customer’s personal information, as defined, or discloses that information to a 3rd party, to provide at no charge, within 30 days of the customer’s specified request, a copy of that information to the customer as well as the names and contact information for all 3rd parties with which the business has shared the information during the previous 12 months, regardless of any business relationship with the customer. This bill would require that a business subject to these provisions choose one of several specified options to provide the customer with a designated address for use in making a request for copies of information under these provisions.

The coalition opposing the Lowenthal’s bill’s letter to California legislators is below:



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  1. Pingback: California Do Not Track Disclosure Bill Goes to Governor Brown | Cyber Report

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