Editorial: Congress must fix data privacy bill so it doesn’t hurt Californians

Finally, Congress seems about to pass legislation to protect Americans’ online privacy. It’s something Americans across the political spectrum have mostly want, and it’s years overdue. Europe introduced strict data protection measures in 2018 and California adopted similar measures soon after.

That’s why we want to be able to say to Congress: “Better late than never!”

But the bill under consideration in Washington is seriously flawed. It threatens to diminish the privacy protections that Californians expect from a State law signed in 2018 and a ballot measures the voters 2020 approved. It is weaker than California privacy laws and includes a provision stating that federal policy would override state laws. This is not acceptable.

A handful of other states followed California’s lead and passed their own privacy laws, though none are quite as strong. Tech companies have been pushing Congress for a unified privacy policy that’s consistent across the country. It’s not surprising that businesses want to avoid having to conform to a patchwork of different privacy laws across states. But Congress must not water down the rights of Californians in federal legislation.

Privacy laws in the Golden State allow consumers to opt out of using artificial intelligence to profile them based on their personal information, such as: B. facial recognition software or rating systems that automatically determine whether someone is suitable for a service. They prevent companies from charging consumers more for deleting their information and ban the monitoring of users’ precise geolocation using video feeds from surveillance cameras and photos from people’s phones.

California privacy law also allows consumers to opt out of the sale of information that makes inferences about you. As Times reporter Jennifer Haberkorn reports, which includes sensitive information like location tracking data that could indicate someone has visited an abortion clinic. These are some of the protections that Californians would lose if Congress passed America’s Privacy Act with the provision that supersedes state law.

The bill garnered bipartisan support in Congress this summer when it was passed by a key committee. But California leaders, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. General Rob Bonta urged lawmakers to change it so it wouldn’t override California law. For a time, it was uncertain whether California’s concerns would be heeded given the bipartisan dynamic and the big push from the tech lobby.

But the most powerful person in the House of Representatives is a California Democrat, and she champions her home state. We applaud Speaker Nancy Pelosi for insisting on changes to the bill. “It is imperative that California continue to offer and enforce the strongest privacy rights in the nation,” said Pelosi 1 Sept

It is not clear how the legislation will be rewritten to leave California laws untouched. Democratic Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of Menlo Park suggested setting the federal law as a floor and allowing other states to take more aggressive action. But the bill’s author, Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, disagreed. He said doing so would risk losing the support of Republicans, who are siding with the tech industry to want federal law that preempts states.

Another approach for legislators to consider is a framework similar to this the Federal Cleanliness Actwhich allows California to set a stricter standard than the national one, and gives states the choice of which to follow.

The proliferation of technology in modern life has created an insidious market for personal information from which residents of all states should be protected. The nation needs a solid privacy law, but not one that weakens California’s. Editorial: Congress must fix data privacy bill so it doesn’t hurt Californians

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