Andrew Yang Takes Lead Role In California Data Privacy Campaign

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By Katy Murphy, POLITICO

August 31, 2020

SACRAMENTO — Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is throwing his weight behind California’s November data privacy ballot measure — not just endorsing the initiative but chairing its advisory board, the Proposition 24 campaign announced Monday. 

Impact: Yang’s involvement could bring more visibility and cachet to the effort, given the tech entrepreneur’s national profile and popularity among younger voters. It could also help counter the negative messaging from some consumer and civil rights groups that are opposing it. 

Yang lives in New York, thousands of miles from where voters will cast their ballots in November. But the initiative, like the law it would rewrite, could be the nation’s de facto privacy law in the absence of federal action. 

The measure: Prop. 24 would rewrite parts of the California Consumer Privacy Act, which gave Californians new rights over their personal data when it took effect in January. The new measure would create a regulatory agency to manage California’s privacy regime, add protections for “sensitive data,” and eliminate the 30-day window that companies now have to correct problems before the attorney general can take them to court. It also would make it harder for the Legislature to roll back its protections in the future; any changes would need to further the law’s aims. 

Alastair Mactaggart, a Bay Area real estate developer whose 2018 initiative compelled the Legislature to pass the CCPA that year, is behind the effort to amend it. 

Consumer groups split: Common Sense Media and Consumer Watchdog support the initiative, saying it will strengthen the law and shield it from future industry attempts to weaken it; Consumer Reports has remained neutral; and the ACLU of California and Consumer Federation of California oppose it, arguing that some of its provisions would actually erode privacy rights and that it is too soon to rewrite the new law.

Opposition by some privacy advocates has given business groups an opportunity to frame their “no” campaign around protecting consumer rights. Already, strategists are trying to raise money by making the case to donors that the consumer message could help sink the initiative.

Yang says: “The California Consumer Privacy Act was a major win for the state of California and the country, but we have to do more. Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, and tech corporations are already lining up to undermine the CCPA. It’s up to us to protect consumers and strengthen our privacy rights to global standards. Our data should be ours no matter what platforms and apps we use. That’s why I hope California voters will join me in supporting Prop 24 by voting YES in November.”

Consumer Watchdog
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