Legislature passes, Governor signs comprehensive privacy bill in one day

Yesterday both houses of the legislature overwhelmingly voted to pass a landmark privacy bill sending it to Governor Brown who signed it hours later.

The vote on AB 375, dubbed the California Data Privacy Protection Act, was 36-0 in the Senate and the Assembly approved it on a 73-0 vote.

The rushed vote was a result of a deal brokered by the bill’s authors, state Senator Bob Hertzberg, (D-Van Nuys), and Assembly member Ed Chau, (D-Alhambra) to head off a ballot measure that featured similar language but contained several drafting defects. The proponents of the ballot measure said they would withdraw the ballot measure if the legislature passed and the governor signed the bill. Within hours of the Governor’s approval, the proponents withdrew the ballot measure.

AB 375 would empower consumers to request from a business what data the business collects about them, allow a consumer to request that a business delete any information the business has collected about them, allow consumers to opt out of any future data collection by a business; and hold companies accountable for breaches. It will not go into effect until January 1 2020.

During committee hearings on the measure CNPA expressed concerns that the bill would impede a newspaper’s ability to gather information and publish stories using personal information which is broadly defined. The bill will also limit how a newspaper can use personal information in its advertising and audience development operations.

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

The delayed implementation of the new law will allow the legislature to work on clean-up legislation to address some of the defects in AB 375. During the committee hearings, several legislators told the authors they expected the clean-up legislation to address the problems raised by CNPA as well as several other industries.

It is expected that work on the clean-up legislation will begin next week.