California’s Controversial Prop. 24 Seeks To Establish The Strongest Data Regulations Ever Seen In The U.S.

This November, Californian voters will be faced with the decision of approving Proposition 24, or the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act, which would establish increased data privacy regulations within the home state of Silicon Valley. Supporters of the legislation claim it will further advance California’s already progressive record on data privacy, although there continues to be widespread fear that the bill might actually constitute a step backwards for the rights of Californian consumers.

Proposition 24 would build upon the California Consumer Privacy Act that was passed in 2018, which was the first major data protection effort in the State of California. This bill gave consumers the right to request that companies delete their data, and disallow it from being sold to third parties. It also forced businesses to disclose what type of personal information they collect from their consumers, as well as their commercial purpose for retaining this information.

If Prop. 24 passes, it would try to expand these efforts by giving consumers the right to opt-out of having their data collected altogether, and by requiring minors under the age of 16 to have to opt-in for their data to be collected in the first place. The legislation would also create a new agency called the California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce these regulations, and collect fines from companies who violate them.

The proposition has gained support from notable politicians such as Congressman Ro Khanna (D) and former Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang (D). It has also received endorsements from advocacy groups such as Common Sense, Consumer Watchdog, and the California NAACP. Those in support of the bill claim that it will be essential for establishing a model for data protection in the U.S., which has yet to undertake the same types of federal privacy regulations that have been implemented by the E.U., India, South Korea, Australia, and other countries.

However, numerous organizations that are strongly committed to the cause of data privacy have ultimately come out against the bill, as they fear it could actually further erode privacy rights in the State of California. Among these critics include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Consumer Federation of California.

One of the primary concerns from these critics is that the bill proposes exemptions to portions of the California Consumer Privacy Act that currently restrict businesses from charging different prices to consumers who choose to exercise their privacy rights. Without these protections in place, companies could potentially establish Pay-for-Privacy subscriptions that would force consumers to have to pay in order to opt-out of sharing their data. Many fear that this type of system would pressure Californians to surrender the privacy protections they already have so that they don’t have to pay extra for online services.

Additionally, Prop. 24 would give businesses the option of refusing consumer requests to delete personal information if the business believes that retaining the data would “help to ensure security and integrity.” Also, unlike current California law, Prop. 24 would also force Californians to surrender their right to privacy the minute they travel outside of the state. Due these numerous exemptions, many critics see the proposition as backtracking on some of the most fundamental privacy rights that Californians already have.

So far, the Californian Republican Party has publicly come out in opposition to the bill, as they believe that it could negatively impact the business environment for California’s tech corporations. Meanwhile, the Californian Democratic Party has still not taken a stance one way or another, possibly due to the growing divide on the bill from privacy advocacy groups. These conflicting opinions on Prop. 24 from progressive voices casts into question whether the initiative will ultimately be approved by a majority of Californians come November.