Welcome to California, We’ve Updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

California, the most populated state and largest economy in the U.S., has some unusual (or exciting, depending on your opinion) ballot initiatives  scheduled for the November election. So far, the ones that have qualified for the ballot (or could soon qualify) include:

  • A rent control initiative which allows local governments to regulate rent.
  • Turning California into Cali-three-nia (thanks NPR), which would split California into three individual states.
  • Allowing ambulance providers to require employees to remain on-call during paid breaks.
  • A legislative proposal to get rid of daylight savings time – to “improve public health.”
  • A proposal titled, California Consumer Personal Information Disclosure and Sale Initiative.

The last one comes on the heels of the European Union’s implementation of its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in late May. The GDPR has an extended reach, impacting any business that deals with European citizens. The law sets standards for data protection, giving customers the option to choose how their data is used, and requiring companies to gain explicit consent to use consumer data and state how they intend to use the data.

Due to the global nature of Internet businesses that use consumer data, American web users have been impacted by a deluge of “updated privacy policy” emails. If this initiative passes, expect even more updated policies that no one will read.

The GDPR has had a rough start in the EU. According to CNBC, marketers are beginning to worry because users are ignoring the privacy policy emails – meaning they are not giving consent to use data. Those that do open the emails are typically unsubscribing. Marketers believe that they will not be able to carry out targeted advertising without pertinent consumer data.

Do a Google search for “GDPR compliance,” and a flood of law firms looking to help companies comply pops up, meaning that lawyers may benefit far more from the regulations than consumers will.

California’s Consumer Right to Privacy Act hopes to  address these issues. It appears to be inspired by GDPR but the penalties aren’t as harsh. Small businesses may be partially relieved to hear that the proposal would not create an explicit requirement for a data protection specialist position. Penalties are left mostly to the discretion of the court, as opposed to specifically ordained by the GDPR. That one could go either way, depending on how the judge is feeling that day.

The initiative has received backlash from the Silicon Valley tech giants such as Facebook and Google. According to Mercury News, Steven Maviglio, the spokesman for the political action committee that titans have funded to fight the proposal, raised concerns that it could “disconnect” California from the rest of the world, negatively impacting business. But, judging by another item on the ballot, it seems like California wants to be disconnected from the U.S. anyway.

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