California Proposition to Strengthen Consumer Data Privacy Likely to Become Law

According to election returns, California voters have expressed their desire for even more robust data privacy protections. At the time of publication, the measure had passed by a vote of 56%, with roughly 6.77 million votes for the changes.

According to the state’s official voter information guide, Proposition 24 amends current consumer privacy laws. Reportedly, it would “prevent businesses from sharing personal information, correct inaccurate personal information, and limit businesses’ use of ‘sensitive personal information,’ including precise geolocation, race, ethnicity, and health information.” It would also establish a California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the new rules.

Proposition 24 would expand California’s privacy law by protecting a larger swath of users’ sensitive data and establishing a “powerful” new state agency to challenge big tech, The Verge reported. Some advocates counsel that Proposition 24 does not solve all extant problems, arguing that the law would still require Californians to affirmatively opt out of data collection.  In practice, this means for each application or website visited, users would have to adjust their own preferences. This, opponents contend, is less ideal than “companies asking consumers for their explicit permission to sell data,” The Verge explained.

Alastair Mactaggart, the law’s sponsor and chair of the organization Californians for Consumer Privacy, was confident enough to declare victory, The Verge reported. In a statement released Wednesday, he said, “with tonight’s historic passage of Prop 24, the California Privacy Rights Act, we are at the beginning of a journey that will profoundly shape the fabric of our society by redefining who is in control of our most personal information and putting consumers back in charge of their own data.”

The measure builds on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a measure passed in 2018, that is already one of the nation’s most robust privacy laws. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra remarked earlier this summer that the need for strong privacy protections has become particularly apparent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic because working from home has brought increased reliability on the internet. 

Becerra also testified before Congress in September, describing the CCPA’s protections and the state’s successful enforcement of data privacy provisions. For example, he explained how the law is the first of its kind to the extent that it permits consumers to tell businesses not to sell their data.