By Nicole Nixon, KPBS, CAPITOL PUBLIC RADIO
October 23, 2020
Californians are voting on a dozen ballot propositions this election, including Prop 24, which would tweak the state’s new digital privacy law. CapRadio’s Nicole Nixon reports.
California’s new Consumer Privacy Act has been in effect for less than a year, but already its backers want to strengthen it.
Prop 24 would create a new state agency to enforce that act and would triple fines for companies that violate children’s online privacy. It would also give consumers more control over the data companies collect.
Some advocates — like Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court — say these are good things.
COURT: This is the strongest protection in America we have now in California, and Prop 24 makes it stronger.
But others worry the initiative is riddled with loopholes and say it could lead to consumers paying to shield their sensitive information.
SNOW: The steps forward are minimal at best, and the steps backward are really problematic.
That’s Jacob Snow with the ACLU of Northern California. The two sparred over the issue this month in a virtual debate hosted by the Sacramento Press Club.
Under current law, users have to check boxes to prevent companies from selling their data. Prop 24 wouldn’t change that, but Snow says it should.
SNOW: It doesn’t make privacy the default, which is the protection that Californians need and the thing that will actually do the job of protecting peoples’ privacy.
But supporters worry if Prop 24 doesn’t pass, tech companies will start to chip away at California’s landmark privacy law. Court points out that in the year after it passed, special interest groups flooded the state capitol trying to gut the law.
COURT: It is crazy and this law will fall if we don’t lock it into statute.
Some argue that the current law should have more time before it’s changed. The California Small Business Association says business owners spent time and money to comply, and a new law would cost them more.