CalChamber Seeking Cleanup Suggestions on Newly Adopted Privacy Bill

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The California Chamber of Commerce is seeking comments from members on the practical implications of the newly signed privacy legislation, enacted to avert a costly battle against an initiative that was headed for a spot on the November ballot.

The CalChamber and a coalition of businesses and other organizations opposed the legislation, AB 375 (Chau; D-Monterey Park/Hertzberg; D-Van Nuys), as representing a serious threat to the California economy.

Unlike the initiative, however, the legislation can be amended before it goes into effect in 2020. Changes to the initiative if it had passed, would have entailed another vote of the people.

AB 375 imposes many costly and poorly defined mandates on businesses. For example, the bill provides “consumers” with the right to request that a business delete their personal information, but the definition of consumer is so broad that it could apply to employees of a business. AB 375 also creates a private right of action for consumers in the event of a data breach that will result in a barrage of class action lawsuits because it allows for the award of significant statutory damages with no requirement of proof of injury.

See the video of CalChamber Policy Advocate Sarah Boot outlining business concerns about AB 375 at www.calchamber.com/videos.

Before the passage of AB 375, the CalChamber and coalition voiced serious concerns with the private right of action in the bill as it exposes California businesses to massive, additional liability without providing any corresponding benefits to consumers.

The CalChamber identified similar language in another bill this year, SB 1121 (Dodd; D-Napa), as a job killer.

SB 1121 now has been designated as the technical clean-up vehicle for AB 375.

Problems with AB 375

In a letter to legislators, the CalChamber and coalition urged them to fix problems with AB 375 that include but are not limited to:

• the issues surrounding enforcement;

• definitions of personal information and sale;

• consumer transparency and access;

• the right to delete information;

• certain opt-in rights;

• the mandated “opt out” button;

• the creation of rights like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in language that differs from the GDPR;

• the Attorney General’s regulatory process; and

• confusing language that will be difficult for businesses and consumers to understand.

Flawed Initiative

The CalChamber-opposed initiative removed from the ballot would have placed extraordinary restrictions on business use of personal information. It shifted away from the longstanding focus on protecting sensitive information to propose restrictions on how businesses use any personally identifiable consumer information. It also increased the incentives for filing class action lawsuits, covered all business sectors and would have been especially harmful to the data-driven economy that generates a significant portion of state revenue.

Given the extreme difficulty of amending a flawed proposal adopted via the initiative process, the CalChamber and coalition consider the legislative process preferable for a law that applies to businesses and technology, which are constantly evolving for the betterment of California.

Staff Contact: Sarah Boot

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Sarah Boot
About Sarah Boot
Sarah R. Boot joined the CalChamber in March 2018 as a policy advocate specializing in privacy/technology, telecommunications, economic development, and taxation issues. Before joining CalChamber, Boot was a top adviser to now-Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins, serving as the senator’s legislative director and as lead staffer on legal, privacy, telecommunications, business, and technology issues, among many others. Boot also was principal consultant to Atkins during her time as Assembly Speaker and Speaker Emeritus. For three years, Boot was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of California. She prosecuted a broad array of federal crimes, including bank robbery, sex trafficking of minors, and narcotics trafficking. In private practice, Boot spent three years litigating complex civil and intellectual property litigation, primarily representing Internet and technology companies. Boot earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She graduated from the University of Michigan with an honors degree in political science and a minor in Spanish