Election 2020: Prop. 24 Would Strengthen State’s New Digital Privacy Law

Published on


October 9, 2020


By J. Jennings Moss – Silicon Valley Business Journal 

10 hours ago

The San Francisco Business Times, Silicon Valley Business Journal and Sacramento Business Journal examine five state ballot initiatives that would affect California businesses. Here we explore Prop. 24.


Proposition 24

Summary: Two years ago, the California Legislature passed the first digital-privacy law in the country. That measure started its life as a proposed ballot measure pushed by San Francisco real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart as a way to give consumers control of the information they pass along to Google, Facebook and others. But Mactaggart backed off going the initiative route when lawmakers promised to take action, which they did by enacting the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA).

That measure took effect this year, yet Mactaggart and others felt it wasn’t strong enough to prevent Big Tech from gathering data on millions of users and then passing that information along to others. That’s the intent of Proposition 24 — aka the Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative — to make it clear that companies cannot share a consumer’s personal information if that consumer says no and to put safeguards in place to stop companies from collecting data on children unless a parent agrees. It would also create a statewide agency to handle enforcement.

Unlike the earlier effort that led to the CCPA, which was widely supported by privacy groups, that coalition has fractured with pro-privacy organizations and leaders finding themselves on opposite sides of the issue. Big Tech companies have largely been silent on the measure while groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been critical of Prop 24, and yet remains officially neutral. The pro-Prop 24 campaign has raised more than $5.4 million, most of it coming from Mactaggart himself. The anti-24 effort has raised slightly more than $48,000.

Arguments for: Supporters say the Legislature did the right thing in 2018, but the bill had too many loopholes. Among the problems: the CCPA said that users have the right to opt out of the sale of their information, but that did nothing to stop companies from giving the data to third-party companies. And it included exceptions, like allowing so-called “service providers” to claim they needed user data for a definite business purpose. To fix those issues, Prop 24 would make it clear: a consumer can tell a company not to sell their personal information.

Arguments against: Opponents are concerned that the initiative is too complex and too legalistic, and that rather than closing loopholes, it would create exceptions that benefit Big Tech companies. Rather than putting the onus on companies to secure permission before they could use someone’s data, the initiative continues the “opt out” standard where a person has to declare they don’t want their personal information sold or shared.

Supporters: Common Sense Media; Consumer Watchdog; former presidential candidate Andrew Yang; U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna; Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP

Opponents: Public Citizen; the ACLU; Consumer Action; the California Alliance for Retired Americans. The Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle both have come out against it.

Consumer Watchdog
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