Dozens Of Privacy Experts Tell The California Legislature That Its New Privacy Law Is Badly Undercooked

from the hard-to-survive-this-turkey dept

Here at Techdirt we’ve taken issue with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), not because there’s anything wrong with online privacy, or even all online privacy regulation. But there’s definitely something wrong with regulating it badly. As we’ve seen with the GDPR, not only does poor regulation struggle to deliver any of the intended benefit, but it also causes all sorts of other harm. Thus it’s enormously important to get this sort of regulation right.

But that’s not the current iteration of the CCPA. Born out of an attempt at political blackmail, rather than considered and transparent policy making, even with several small attempts at improvements, it suffers from several showstopping infirmities. These were set forth in a letter to the California legislature organized by Eric Goldman, who has been closely tracking the law, and signed by 41 California privacy lawyers, professionals, and professors (including me). As he summarized in a blog post hosting a copy of the letter, these defects include:

  • That the law affects many businesses who never had a chance to explain the law?s problems to the legislature;
  • That compliance with the CCPA imposes excessive costs on small businesses;
  • That its inconsistencies with other privacy laws including the GDPR requires businesses to waste extra money;
  • The CCPA undermines other consumer privacy laws;
  • There are drafting errors and other problems, including with overbroad definitions; and
  • It claims an extraterritorial reach that may not be Constitutional, and will create substantial confusion for everyone, as well as costs for the state, as the question is litigated.

In other words, we can do better. As the letter concludes:

Everyone has acknowledged that the CCPA remains a work-in-progress, but there may be some misapprehensions about the scope and scale of the required changes still remaining. In our view, the CCPA needs many substantial changes before it becomes a law that truly benefits California. We appreciate your work on these important matters.

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Comments on “Dozens Of Privacy Experts Tell The California Legislature That Its New Privacy Law Is Badly Undercooked”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Just another nail in the coffin of California based companies

If this even looks like it will pass, companies will be forced to change their offices to states other than CA to protect themselves. I guess this will bring more work for lawyers, but everyone else will end up losing from this law. Maybe it is a lawyer relier bill in disguise.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Just another nail in the coffin of California based comp

This. But it’s unlikely to be enforceable for long, since other states can and will sue in federal court if California tries to enforce it across state borders.

And crossing federal borders is unconstitutional for a state, since that authority is reserved to the federal government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your extremely rude and ad-hominem reaction suggests I definitely have a point which was eloquently made.

This shows the problem of internet debating: the losing side gets nastier and nastier, sometimes even crossing the lines into defamation, harassment, even death threats if the other side doesn’t back down.

Seen it many times. Ultimately, they resort to outright censorship if they can’t win.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yet again, Techdirt and Google agree.

You’ve been commenting along these lines a lot today. Yet you ignore the many, many times we disagree with Google or criticize the company’s practices. Funny that. Yes, sometimes we agree with Google. Sometimes Google makes the right call. At the same time, sometimes we disagree with Google (for example, Google is still pushing for a federal privacy law, and we have serious reservations about the kinds of bills that Google is currently supporting).

Those "new business models" can take care of this problem. If the internet (or laws like this) make a company’s business model obsolete, it deserves to perish, or is that only the case when privacy destroys a music label?

This is a weird line of argument — almost blissfully misleading. We support new business models when consumer practices dictate such. Not when lobbyists convince the law to change in a manner that makes no sense and benefits no one. This is not, in any way, akin to consumer practices changing. This is the government stepping in with a poorly thought out "solution" to an ill-defined problem, creating a huge mess in the process. It has nothing to do with consumer preferences shifting or technology making previous business models obsolete.

But you know that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

To be clear: you’re arguing that Techdirt is so reliant on Google advertising for money that it biases their coverage, but not so reliant that they, say, get rid of the user’s ability to remove ads from the website?

You know what?

I am completely convinced. I’ve been seeing you comment on here for ages, and I always just thought, "who is this strange, angry person?". But just now, it’s finally hit me that literally any site that runs Google Ads in any capacity is inherently untrustworthy. It’s just a really compelling argument that, when you think about it, makes almost too much sense.

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