Sacramento Bee: We Californians have a right to privacy. But what does it mean in the digital age?

June 09, 2017

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Opinion by the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board:

We consumers must beware of the capabilities of the devices we buy. But few of us are technologically literate enough to understand nuances of all the internet-connected things. Tech firms must be as transparent as possible. Government must police those that chose to remain opaque.

“Technology is amoral. It is our job as legislators to put morality around the work that is being done,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat who has been pushing for privacy legislation for as long as she has been in office. “There has to be an intersection between humanity and technology.”

This year, she is carrying Senate Bill 327 to require clear disclosures about the capabilities of internet-connected devices, whether they’re, as she says, “Teddy bears or toasters.” The bill has stalled. Without a doubt, Jackson’s bill needs to be refined. That should happen in the coming months, and that discussion will be important. We must understand the capabilities of devices to collect data and the implications.

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