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Statement by Emily Rusch, Executive Director, CALPIRG
"The massive Equifax data breach and the Cambridge Analytica fiasco created new awareness among consumers about the vulnerability of our personal data to unwanted sharing and access by privacy thieves. California has the right to privacy enshrined in our constitution and the California Consumer Privacy Act takes several steps forward to protecting consumers' personal information.
Notably, AB 375 will hold companies accountable for data breaches that occur as the result of negligence. The Equifax breach underscored that not all companies keep our private, personal information safe. Thanks to this bill, consumers are more likely to be compensated for the loss of their personal information in the unfortunate event of a breach. But more importantly, this bill will incentivize companies to protect our data and prevent data breaches in the first place.
The option to opt out of the sale of our data, through the new “Do not sell my personal information” button required for websites, is another new online privacy protection for all Californians.
Unfortunately, the bill also codifies privacy loopholes. For example, while companies can’t sell our personal information if we opt out, they can “share” it, significantly reducing our ability to control our own data. And the bill specifically allows companies to charge consumers more if we opt out of the sale of our data. For the first time California is explicitly allowing “pay for privacy” deals that are in direct contradiction to our privacy rights.
While the bill applies only to consumers in California, it is likely to change the privacy landscape nationally. Consumers everywhere will be safer because consequences of negligence are much higher, and companies should take greater precautions to keep our data. Additionally, it may be easier for companies to offer all consumers the option to opt out of the sale of their data, instead of trying to limit the protections only to California consumers.
We hope to work with the Attorney General to maximize enforcement of AB 375 and work with the legislature to strengthen consumer privacy protections in the future."
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