The real-estate magnate behind California’s landmark privacy law is at it again. This time, Alastair Mactaggart has crafted a ballot initiative that would be even tougher on companies that collect broad swaths of personal information.
“People are really hungry for more, not less, privacy protection,” Mactaggart told MarketWatch.
The California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020 is essentially an amendment to the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, which is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Mactaggart’s latest would grant consumers more control over what he calls “sensitive personal information” such as a person’s race, health, Social Security number and recent locations using GPS technology. If passed into law, consumers would have the right to prevent such data from being sold or used for advertising purposes. The proposal includes the creation of a five-member state agency to enforce privacy protections.
The new ballot initiative, in large measure, is “about what we couldn’t get in” CCPA, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, acknowledged to MarketWatch in a phone interview. “It’s too bad this (law) was viewed through interest-group lenses, and not for the public good. Everyone got into their corners.”
Companies that improperly share and sell health and financial data of children younger than 16, for instance, would face stiff penalties under the November 2020 statewide ballot measure submitted last Wednesday by Mactaggart’s nonprofit organization, Californians for Consumer Privacy. In practice, the latest ballot measure is an amendment to CCPA that would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
“There are many things in this initiative that would advance consumer privacy,” Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in an email to MarketWatch, though he added that some parts of the initiative draft “give us concern, such as the lack of a true private right of action for all violations.”
Though Mactaggart considers CCPA a “great baseline,” he emphasized state residents need even stronger privacy protection following disclosures of Facebook Inc.’s FB, -0.69% entanglement with British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential election, and a security breach at credit-reporting bureau Equifax Inc. EFX, -2.78% that exposed the information of 147 million people.
At the same time, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have launched investigations into the considerable business influence of Facebook, Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL, -2.33% GOOG, -2.36% Google, Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -1.29%, and Apple Inc. AAPL, -2.51%, all of whom depend on data to fuel their operations.
Hertzberg, who is Senate Majority Leader, credited Mactaggart for giving it another go — particularly in pursuing the creation of a data-privacy protection agency.
“Congress is not doing anything,” he said, echoing a complaint among privacy advocates. “It’s encouraging to see California do the right thing, and set an example for other states and the nation.”