Prop 24 Seemingly Seeks To Expand Internet Privacy, Critics Say It Won’t

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By Angelica Cabral, THE CALIFORNIAN

September 8, 2020

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of four articles highlighting notable ballot propositions. The other propositions The Californian covered were 17, 21 and 22. 

Proposition 24 is a bit confusing.

Does it increase privacy for internet users, or does it ultimately make the situation worse? At first, there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut, easily digestible answer. 

To start the story, we have to go back to 2018 when the California Consumer Privacy Act was passed, creating the California Privacy Protection Agency. The law went into effect in January. 

Also known as the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020, Proposition 24 would expand on the 2018 law.

The ballot initiative was created by Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, he called the 2018 law “a great baseline,” but wants this proposition to take things further. According to proponents of the proposition, such as Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, this would protect the existing law from legislative attacks. 

“We think it’s critical…to go further and give people the right to say no to use of sensitive information like race, gender, and sexual orientation,” Court said. 

This law would require consumers to “opt-out” in order for their data to not be collected, rather than an “opt-in.” Critics say this could be a problem, along with the fact that internet service providers could potentially use this measure to charge more to consumers who opt-out. 

“Unfortunately, Prop 24 won’t help people who are already struggling to protect their privacy because it puts in place and reinforces this notion that people should be charged for their privacy,” Jacob Snow of the ACLU said. “It also uses a framework which forces people to do the work themselves by filling out forms.” 

Snow and the ACLU believe that Prop 24 weakens current California privacy law in numerous ways and has lots of exceptions that will let companies profit off people’s information.

“We’ve seen immigrants be targeted by the federal government using information that they bought from private data brokers collecting information about people’s locations. The simple fact is privacy violations put people at risk,” he said. “Privacy in California is an inalienable human right and so that’s why the law should protect privacy for everyone and not just rich people.”

Court hopes this new proposition could do good.

He claims that the idea that internet service providers could charge more to those who choose to protect their privacy is false. 

“This is the strongest law in America,” Court said. “Some say it should go further, but it is the strongest law in America, and we need to have the right to say no to the sharing and selling of our information” 

So, the opponents and supporters disagree on what the law would mean. Here’s what the text says: 

“1) A business shall not discriminate against a consumer because the consumer exercised any of the consumer’s rights under this title, Including, but not limited to, by…(B) Charging different prices or rates for goods or services, Including through the use of discounts or other benefits or Imposing penalties.”

This would seem to imply that a business couldn’t charge more for someone opting out, right? But the text continues with the following: 

“A business may offer financial incentives, including payments to consumers as compensation, for the collection of personal information, the sale or sharing of personal information, or the retention of personal information. A business may also offer a different price, rate, level, or quality of goods or services to the consumer if that price or difference is reasonably related to the value provided to the business by the consumer’s data.”

All in all, it would seem that Prop 24 wants to protect consumer data but has a lot of loopholes that would make it so companies could still collect data and even use incentives to guide consumers into consenting to the sale of their data. 

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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