Lawmakers reach deal on privacy bill if initiative is withdrawn

Two California legislators brokered a deal late Thursday that would strengthen consumers’ online data privacy and head off a proposed November ballot measure that major technology companies opposed.

AB 375, dubbed the California Data Privacy Protection Act by state Senator Robert Hertzberg, (D-Van Nuys), and Assembly member Ed Chau, (D-Alhambra), would allow consumers to know what data companies collect on them, allow them to opt out and hold companies accountable for breaches.

CNPA staff is still analyzing the bill to determine its impact on the advertising, circulation and newsgathering operations of California newspapers.

The initiative, sponsored by wealthy San Francisco developer Alastair Mactaggart, and the proposed legislation gained momentum after Facebook acknowledged that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested up to 87 million Facebook user profiles without their consent.

According to the deal negotiated between Mactaggart and the lawmakers, he would withdraw the ballot measure if the Legislature passes the proposed bill by June 28 – the last date for the ballot measure to qualify or to be pulled from the ballot.

The initiative campaign submitted 629,000 signatures in May for the proposed ballot measure, which would need at least 365,880 to qualify.
The bill mirrors the core components of the ballot initiative. It would guarantee consumers the right to know what data is being collected from them and to opt out of that data collection. It also would hold companies liable for data breaches.

AB 375 would allow the attorney general to levy fines for data breaches, after which consumers could then sue over them. The ballot measure exposed companies to litigation regardless of the state attorney general’s action.