Some privacy bills survive Senate committee, targeted ads not in play—for now

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week killed a key privacy measure that would have made compliance with California’s recently enacted privacy law more workable for newspapers and other businesses. The action was consistent with statements made by the Chairwoman of the committee, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), that she intended to kill any privacy bill that she perceived as weakening the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The committee did, however pass a few privacy bills although they were significantly weakened before the votes took place.

Following is a brief description of each of the bills taken by the committee:

Killed by Committee

AB 873 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) would have made very modest changes to the definitions of what constitutes “personal information” (limiting potential CCPA liability) and “deidentified information” (would not trigger CCPA liability) It would have added the word “reasonably” before “capable of being associated with” in the definition of personal information and it would have aligned the test for deidentified information to make it workable and consistent with the FTC standard. The bill was strongly supported by CNPA and the business community.

Passed by Committee

AB 25 by Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Arcadia) would exclude from the CCPA definition of “consumer information” information gathered by an employer regarding an employee. Organized labor opposed the bill but removed its opposition after a sunset clause was added making the provision inoperative after January 1, 2021. CNPA supports AB 25.

AB 846 by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) would clarify that loyalty/rewards programs should continue to be allowed under the CCPA. The bill is a potential vehicle for an amendment that would clarify that newspapers using soft paywalls can charge users for content without violating the CCPA. The bill was amended by the committee to prohibit businesses from “selling” information obtained from loyalty/rewards programs. Based on the amendment the author and sponsor, the California Retailers Association may hold the bill.

AB 874 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) would clarify that publicly available information, which is not personal information, includes all information that is lawfully made available from federal, state, or local government records, regardless of whether that information is used for a purpose that is not compatible with the purpose for which the data is maintained.

AB 1564 by Assemblyman Mark Berman (D-Palo Alto) would require a business to make available to consumers a toll-free telephone number or an email address for submitting requestsfor information required to be disclosed. Significant amendments were taken in committee that state if a company only conducts business online, it only has to provide consumers with an email address to exercise their CCPA rights.

SB 753, by Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), a measure that would have specified that targeted advertising would not trigger liability under the CCPA was withdrawn by the author several months ago. CNPA and the News Media Alliance continued to push for a newspaper only exemption for targeted ads but were unable to obtain consensus from privacy advocates – a prerequisite that potential authors required.

CNPA and NMA continue to work with the broader business community on putting together a deal on targeted ads when legislators return from their recess in August.