New York Times: California Today: The Fight Over a Landmark Digital Privacy Law

May 22, 2019

When California’s landmark data privacy law passed last year, it followed an improbable campaign by privacy activists, who struck a deal with legislators and business lobbyists to avoid a ballot initiative that could have ended with a more stringent law.

The new law grants consumers the right to know what information companies are collecting about them, why they are collecting that data and with whom they are sharing it. It gives consumers the right to tell companies to delete their information as well as to not sell or share their data.

All this has set off a wide-ranging debate on whether to weaken or bolster the law, the California Consumer Privacy Act, before it takes effect in January.

There’s a bill that would carve out an exemption for businesses providing consumer data to government agencies. There are bills that would subtly change the law’s definition of the terms “deidentified” and “personal information.

One legislator who’s been closely following the process is State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

Though her bill aiming to strengthen the power of the law was effectively killed for the year over concerns about the potential cost to businesses and courts, Ms. Jackson told me she’s not sitting out the rest of the fight.

I asked Ms. Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, about why she’s focusing on digital privacy and what’s next. Here’s our conversation, lightly edited and condensed: