In the dead of night, the California Legislature shelved legislation that would have protected every Internet user in the state from having their data collected and sold by ISPs without their permission. By failing to pass A.B. 375, the legislature demonstrated that they put the profits of Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast over the privacy rights of their constituents.
Earlier this year, the Republican majority in Congress repealed the strong privacy rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission in 2016, which required ISPs to get affirmative consent before selling our data. But while Congressional Democrats fought to protect our personal data, the Democratic-controlled California legislature did not follow suit. Instead, they kowtowed to an aggressive lobbying campaign, from telecommunications corporations and Internet companies, which included spurious claims and false social media advertisements about cybersecurity.
“It is extremely disappointing that the California legislature failed to restore broadband privacy rights for residents in this state in response to the Trump Administration and Congressional efforts to roll back consumer protection,” EFF Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon said. “Californians will continue to be denied the legal right to say no to their cable or telephone company using their personal data for enhancing already high profits. Perhaps the legislature needs to spend more time talking to the 80% of voters that support the goal of A.B. 375 and less time with Comcast, AT&T, and Google's lobbyists in Sacramento.”
All hope is not lost, because the bill is only stalled for the rest of the year. We can raise it again in 2018.
A.B. 375 was introduced late in the session; that it made it so far in the process so quickly demonstrates that there are many legislators who are all-in on privacy. In January, EFF will build off this year's momentum with a renewed push to move A.B. 375 to the governor's desk. Mark your calendar and join us.