California Privacy Bill Doesn't Get Vote

According to a privacy advocate following the issue, as well as various California newspapers, an online privacy bill that would have mimicked the FCC's broadband privacy framework invalidated by Congress had itself been deep-sixed, at least for now.

The bill, A.B. 375, was expected to be voted on Friday, Sept. 15, in the California legislature, but was never brought up for that vote.

That was not a huge surprise since major California edge players had teamed up with ISPs to oppose the bill, which had been meant to provide similar privacy protections for the state that Congress nullified for the country in rolling back the FCC's framework, approved last fall on a partisan vote by the then Democratic majority.

The bill had been the focus of much attention last week, including from critics painting it as a threat to privacy, rather than a benefit, and even the former FCC chairman who pushed the framework, Tom Wheeler, weighing in to offer his support.

 A coalition of companies including Comcast, Charter, Google, Facebook and the Motion Picture Association of America, had said the bill was vague and unclear to a degree that had serious effects on consumers and businesses," including a lack of clarity on who the bill covers.

The FCC privacy framework included requiring opt in permission to share information with third parties, but it was only targeted to ISPs. Edge providers do not want that requirement applied to them.

The coalition suggested that the need for constant permission to share data could inure web surfers to dangers lurking within the web. They said the bill "would lead to recurring pop-ups to consumers that would be desensitizing and give opportunities to hackers," adding: "The bill also prevents internet providers from using information they have long relied upon to prevent cybersecurity attacks and improve their service. Thus, the bill at once increases the likelihood of cyber threats while hamstringing businesses from fighting the same threats."

(Photo via Rock1997Image taken on Jan. 18, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.