California Holds Forum to Kick Off New Data Privacy Law

California Holds Forum to Kick Off New Data Privacy Law


Love or hate big data, the regulations are coming. Listen for the latest on California’s groundbreaking Consumer Privacy Act.


Mark Mericle: A public forum on California’s Consumer Privacy Act was held in San Francisco today to give input on how it should be implemented before the act takes effect next year. Members of the public said the law could disproportionately impact California’s lower income residents. Jody Strait reports.

Jody Strait: How much does Google know about you? Can you sue a company if your data is breached? What rights do Californian’s have to protect their data? Those are just some of the questions Californian’s will be able to answer in 2020, when California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect. But first, the state is holding public forums for stakeholders to comment on the 10,000 word law—six months after it was rushed through the state legislature to avoid a ballot initiative. The long-awaited forum began with a flop, ending nearly two hours early. 

Tracy Rosenberg was there. She spoke critically about CCPA on behalf of Bay Area advocacy group, Media Alliance. 

Tracy Rosenberg: Every single time you sort of opted out of having a business sell your data you could be given disadvantageous pricing or some sort of a fee that’s supposably related to the value of your data. And what we kinda wanted to say is you think of all the companies that you do transactions with every year—your wireless company, your ISP, all of the websites that you visit, all of your online shopping, and offline shopping too—those kinds of fees could add up to something really prohibitive, and we could get into a situation where we have a sort of two tier privacy law, and a choice, but it’s only really a choice if you have the money and you can afford it.

Jody Strait: CCPA explicitly prohibits businesses from discriminating against a consumer for exercising their data privacy rights. But it also allows for businesses to offer financial incentives and a different price for services if you don’t agree to hand over your data, if the service is, “directly related to the value provided to the consumer by the consumer’s data.” That clause is what Eric Goldman, co-director of Santa Clara University’s High Tech Law Institute calls a major ambiguity. Goldman is not a fan.

Eric Goldman: Google and Facebook, actually, there going to be fine under this law. This law is not going to actually fix their…the concerns we might have about them. It’s only going to create barriers to entry for anyone else to keep up with them, for the people who can’t afford to do the compliance work that they’re going to do, it’s going to drive them out of business, and it’s gonna reduce their ability to complete. So, um, I always find it odd when people think that this law is going to be the one that fixes Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook are laughing about that.

Jody Strait: Goldman says the law will have a limited impact because consumers won’t take advantage of their new privacy rights. But that didn’t stop tech giants from fighting it. Two days before the CCPA was passed, The Intercept reported that tech companies like Google and Facebook contributed six figure donations to the California Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to kill the CCPA. But the Chamber ultimately came out in support of the law, fearing that a stronger privacy ballot initiative would pass. The ambiguities in the CCPA are expected to be worked out in a companion bill—AB 25—that’s pending in Sacramento. 

More forums on California’s Consumer Privacy Act will be held throughout the state into the second week of February. 

For the Pacifica Evening News in San Francisco, I’m Jody Strait.

This story originally aired on KPFA Radio. For rebroadcasting, email


This post was written by Jody, lead writer at Strait Writing. If you are looking to improve your writing, schedule a coaching session and get practical tips on how to take your writing to the next level.

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