This March 26, 2018 file photo shows a computer with
Facebook ad preferences pages, in San Francisco. Proposition 24 on
California’s 2020 ballot seeks to expand California’s consumer privacy law
by tripling penalties for companies that break laws regarding the collection
and sale of children’s private information. It would also create a state
agency to enforce consumer privacy protections. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
2) iPhone photo
This August 11, 2019 file photo an iPhone displays the apps
for Facebook and Messenger in New Orleans. Proposition 24 on California’s
2020 ballot seeks to expand California’s consumer privacy law by tripling
penalties for companies that break laws regarding the collection and sale of
children’s private information. It would also create a state agency to
enforce consumer privacy protections. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
3) Cambridge Analytica
In this April 18, 2018 file photo, a graphic from the
Cambridge Analytica website is displayed on a computer screen in New York.
Proposition 24 on California’s 2020 ballot seeks to expand California’s
consumer privacy law by tripling penalties for companies that break laws
regarding the collection and sale of children’s private information. It
would also create a state agency to enforce consumer privacy protections.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
In this February 7, 2020 file photo, then-Democratic presidential
candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks during a Democratic presidential
primary debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Yang is promoting
Proposition 24 on California’s 2020 ballot, which seeks to expand
California’s consumer privacy law by tripling penalties for companies that
break laws regarding the collection and sale of children’s private
information. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Andrew Yang takes lead in California data privacy measure
By Jocelyn Gecker
The Associated Press
October 4, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Fitbits on our wrists collect our health and
fitness data; Apple promises privacy but lots of iPhone apps can still share
our personal information; and who really knows what they’re agreeing to when
a website asks, "Do You Accept All Cookies?" Most people just click "OK" and
hope for the best, says former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew
"The amount of data we’re giving up is unprecedented in human history,"
says Yang, who lives in New York but is helping lead the campaign for a data
privacy initiative on California’s November 3 ballot. "Don’t you think it’s
time we did something about it?"
Yang is chairing the advisory board for Proposition 24, which he and
other supporters see as a model for other states as the U.S. tries to catch
up with protections that already exist in Europe.
The California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 would expand the rights
Californians were given to their personal data in a groundbreaking law
approved two years ago, which took effect in January. The California
Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 was intended to give residents more control
over their personal information collected online. It limited how companies
gather personal data and make money from it and gave consumers the right to
know what a company has collected and have it deleted, as well as the right
to opt out of the sale of their personal information.
But between the time the law was passed and took effect, major companies
have found ways to dodge requirements. Tech and business lobbyists are
pressuring the legislature to water it down further, with proposals to undo
parts of the law, says Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate
developer who spearheaded support for the 2018 law and is behind the effort
to amend it.
"Business is actively seeking to undermine the protections that were just
put in place," says Mactaggart. He began advocating for consumer privacy
after a dinner party conversation with a Google employee who told him people
would be shocked by how much the company knows about them. As more time
passes without restrictions, he said "these businesses, because of the
nature of their power, will be too powerful to regulate."
To help research and draft the measure, Mactaggart said he hired Ashkan
Soltani, former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist, and consulted
with numerous other privacy experts.
The measure is supported by Common Sense Media and Consumer Watchdog,
along with several privacy experts and labor organizations that say the
measure will strengthen the law and protect it from industry attempts to
The pro-24 campaign has raised more than $5.5 million, most of it from
The campaign to defeat the measure has raised just $50,000. Opponents say
the 52-page initiative is so complicated that most voters won’t read it, or
understand their rights if they do. Early voting begins Monday.
Opponents include groups like the California Small Business Association,
a handful of local chambers of commerce and the National Federation of
Independent Business (NFIB), which say it’s too soon to rewrite the law.
They say the measure would further burden small businesses still trying to
comply with the new law. "And now Prop. 24 would upend all of that for an
even more stringent, onerous law," the NFIB said in a statement.
The ACLU of Northern California is also opposed, saying some updates
would actually hurt consumers.
"Overall, it is a step backward for privacy in California," said Jacob
Snow, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU of Northern
California. He argues Proposition 24 would make it easier for businesses to
charge customers higher prices — or "pay for privacy" — if they refuse the
collection of their data, or downgrade service for those who don’t pay the
fee, which could hurt low-income communities and those who can’t pay to
"That’s not how privacy should work. It should not be a luxury that only
rich people can afford," he said.
Mactaggart says these objections are a misrepresentation of the measure
and that the "pay for privacy" provision is already part of the existing
Proposition 24 would also create the California Privacy Protection
Agency, with an annual budget of $10 million, to enforce the law and fine
companies for violations.
Now, only the state attorney general can bring enforcement actions, but
Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said his office has limited resources
and could only bring a handful of cases each year.
It would also triple the fines on companies that violate kids’ privacy or
illegally collect and sell their private information, while closing some of
the loopholes that proponents say companies such as Facebook, Google and
Spotify have exploited by saying they’re not selling personal information
but "sharing" it with partners. Consumers could also opt out of data sharing
and sales of private information about everything from their race and
ethnicity to union membership or religion.
"I think this is going to be an opportunity for us to set a national
standard," said Yang. "As soon as other states see that Californians have
these data and privacy rights, they’re going to want the same thing."