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Sat Sep 26, 2020, 07:54 AM

The Fight Over the Fight Over California's Privacy Future [View all]

Prop. 24 is designed to make the California Consumer Privacy Act stronger.
Why do so many privacy advocates oppose it?
The point of Prop. 24 is to patch the holes currently making the CCPA such a leaky privacy vessel. If approved by California voters, the initiative would change the law’s “Do not sell” provision to “Do not sell or share” to eliminate any wiggle room for unremunerated data transfers, and it clarifies that targeted advertising does not count as a “business purpose” that exempts companies from complying with user opt-outs. It also aims to beef up enforcement by requiring the legislature to appropriate $10 million in annual spending for an entire new privacy protection agency. And unlike the 2018 ballot initiative, Prop. 24 allows the legislature to make future changes with a simple majority vote—but only if those changes enhance, rather than weaken, the purposes of the law.

Not everyone thinks it’s so fantastic. Mary Stone Ross, Mactaggart’s erstwhile partner, has gone so far as to found a group called California Consumer and Privacy Advocates Against Prop. 24. At times, the rivalry has gotten a little personal. The “No on 24” website warns that “a wealthy San Francisco developer” is spending millions to “weaken California’s recent landmark privacy law,” without mentioning that it’s the same developer who helped create the law in the first place. The two have traded barbs in the press. Mactaggart is incredulous that Ross sent a fundraising prospectus to tech companies, among others. Ross counters that her only funding to date comes from the California Nurses Association, who donated $20,000, and that Mactaggart himself met with tech companies and incorporated some of their concerns into the initiative.

Ross’ other allies include the ACLU of Northern California, the Consumer Federation of California, and Color of Change. Some organizations that carry clout on the issue, like Consumer Reports and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have declined to endorse the initiative, declaring that they can’t decide if the good parts outweigh the bad. What is the bad? One common complaint is that Prop. 24 allows what is pejoratively known as “pay for privacy”: businesses can charge users more if they opt out of sharing their information. (They can only charge the value they would have derived from that data.) That’s already allowed under the CCPA, but critics say Prop. 24 entrenches it further.

The biggest disagreements over Prop. 24 are interpretive. The initiative comprises 52 pages of dense legal language, addressing highly technical concepts, with subsections and intricate cross-references that even experts admit they struggle to follow. That convoluted language has led to sharply different opinions about what the initiative would actually do—whether, in crucial respects, it would expand consumer privacy or restrict it.

Much more in the article.

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