CALI Participates as Legislature Begins New Look at Privacy Issues

Friday, December 27, 2013  

By Jerry Desmond, Jr., Esq. Desmond & Desmond, CALI Legislative Advocate

CALI Legislative Committee Chair Francie Koehler, together with CALI Board Members Roberto Rivera and Felipe Flores, joined me in participating in the substantive hearing held jointly by three Assembly policy committees in Santa Clara on December 12.

Eight legislators participated in the December 12 hearing, including chairs and members of the Assembly Committees on the: Judiciary; Business, Professions and Consumer Protection; and Select Committee on Privacy.

The hearing confirmed the continuing interest of policy-makers in issues related to privacy, and provided a first look at issues that we anticipate to see addressed through legislation and perhaps a statewide voter initiative next year. These include:

Privacy Initiative - Plans by former Senator Steve Peace and others to place on the ballot an amendment to the state Constitution establishing a right to privacy in personally identifying information and setting forth three key provisions:

1. Whenever a natural person supplies personally identifying information to a legal person that is engaged in collecting such information for a commercial or governmental purpose, the personally identifying information shall be presumed to be confidential.

2. Harm to a natural person shall be presumed whenever his or her confidential personally identifying information has been disclosed without his or her authorization.

3. Confidential personally identifying information may be disclosed without authorization if there is a countervailing compelling interest to do so (such as public safety or protected non-commercial free speech) and no reasonable alternative for accomplishing such compelling interest.

Protections against the Government – Proposals by major internet companies that the State Legislature pass a new law mandating that government agencies obtain a search warrant in order to access consumer information in the possession of the private sector.

Privacy Law Updates – Proposals by December 12 hearing panelists that updates be enacted to California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act as well as the Song Beverly Act in order to incorporate new protections against inappropriate use and to reflect updates made at the federal level.

Consumer Control of Information – Proposals to revise state laws so that, rather than requiring notice to consumers, individuals are provided mechanisms to be informed about and control the information that pertains to them, including its collection, use and transfer.

CALI’s legislative report and 2013 efforts included several bills addressing public policy issues concerning privacy and the internet which were the subject of review during the December 12 informational hearing, including:

  • AB 370 [Muratsuchi], enacted: commercial website collecting personally identifying information required to disclose how it responds to "do not track” signals.
  • AB 242 [Chau], two-year bill: requirement that commercial website privacy policies be no more than 100 words, be written in clear and concise language, and be written at the 8th grade level.
  • AB 1291 [Lowenthal] – two-year bill: establishment of a Right to Know Act of 2013

Additional measures are anticipated as the Legislature returns on January 6 and approximately 2,500 new measures are introduced by a February 21 bill introduction deadline.