The Online Privacy Quickie Sell-Out Deal



They could restore it but…..

At a time when it is difficult to pay attention to much besides the disaster that is the Trump adminstration’s”family separation policy”, the CA Legislature is rushing through an evisceration of online privacy, in a shameful ending to AB 375. The bill was  introduced with much fanfare in 2017 by Assembly privacy chair Ed Chau to replace FCC broadband privacy regulations repealed by Congress.

After several contentious hearings and several unexplained trips to rules committees, the bill was literally snatched off the CA Senate floor at the last minute, accompanied by telecom fact-free sheets asserting that giving Californians the ability to consent to the sale of their personally identifying information would cause terrorism. 

Widespread disgust at the outcome inspired a wealthy real estate developer Alastair MacTaggart to take it to the voters, which to the surprise of the telecoms, he succeeded at doing having collected 603,000 signatures to put the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on the November 2018 ballot.

CCPA is not as strong as the original FCC rules repealed by Congress, but even this modest democratic initiative appeared to be too much, as on Thursday June 21, word leaked out of a secret deal to amend the long-paralyzed Assembly Bill 375 and rush it through floor votes in both the CA Senate and the CA Assembly and get Governor Brown’s signature inked in less than a week or by Thursday June 28th.

Yes. This Thursday.

And MacTaggart, perhaps realizing exactly how many millions of a dollars a controversial ballot initiative in CA costs and wary of the publicized hundreds of millions dollars already poured into opposing the measure, agreed to drop the initiative effort if the rush job works.

It might make some sense to sell out 603,000 voters if the regulations the CA legislature is considering *were* the ones contained in CCPA, but they’re not.

Weakening the weakened, the hurry-up job, among many other problems, allows telecoms to provide more advantageous pricing for consumers who *don’t* opt out of selling their data, making privacy a luxury item for the wealthy and a burden for the poor. It contains opt-out requirements and consent for the sale of data, but not for the sharing of data without financial considerations, a loophole through which trucks can be driven. And it gives the Attorney General an absolute right to veto any consumer lawsuit to enforce the law, with no reason required.

This “deal” needs to go down.

Here is Media Alliance’s letter asking the Democratic caucus in the California State Senate not to go along with this travesty and to let the voters decide.

Media Alliance Letter of Opposition AB 375



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