Rich Dude Goes Back On His Promise About Forcing California Into A Dreadfully Bad Privacy Law, Brings A Worse Version Back

from the this-is-not-how-law-making-should-be-done dept

California is inching ever closer to having its very problematic privacy law take effect. As we've noted, while good privacy legislation would be desirable, this is not it. Indeed, this law is woefully undercooked by design. If you don't remember, the process by which we got here dictated terrible results. A wealthy real estate developer, Alastair Mactaggart, decided that he was going to "fix" internet privacy, by putting a truly bad proposal regarding internet privacy to a public vote, using California's somewhat horrific public referendum system -- that allows for the public to effectively modify California's constitution by popular vote.

While, in theory, this could be an example of popular democracy at work, in practice, the California referendum system has been a way for ultra-wealthy people, with too much time and money on their hands, to push through pet projects -- often either misrepresenting the nuances to the public, or perhaps not understanding them themselves -- and then locking California into the results. Recognizing just what an unmitigated disaster Mactaggart's referendum would have been for an open internet, a deal was cut: if California's legislature rushed through a privacy bill in two weeks, Mactaggart would drop the referendum from the ballot. And that lead to the woefully undercooked CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) law, which was at least marginally better than Mactaggart's nonsense proposal.

But, here's the thing, after agreeing to pull that referendum from the ballot, Mactaggart has now announced that he's bringing it back for the next ballot. Really.

The activist who spurred California to adopt the country’s first-ever consumer privacy law is readying for another battle: a new ballot initiative that would be even tougher on tech giants and other big businesses that collect people’s personal information.

The proposal, unveiled late Tuesday, is the brainchild of Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer whose efforts beginning two years ago resulted in the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA. Building on that success, Mactaggart has set his sights on the 2020 election, hoping that local voters will enact reforms targeting the way companies harness data to make decisions or serve ads.

But, remember, the whole point of forcing through the undercooked CCPA was to get Mactaggart to back off his stupid referendum, but now it's back, meaning that there's just going to be more nonsense and fighting, to stop a ballot measure from a guy who has no clue what his proposal would actually do to the internet. And, because California's ballot measures are playthings for rich people, Mactaggart will likely get his way:

Mactaggart spent $3.1 million of his own money to gather signatures for his first privacy measure in 2018 and said he’s prepared to spend the same, or more, on this effort. He has said he came to the issue somewhat by accident after having a cocktail party conversation with a Silicon Valley technology engineer that left him startled when he learned about the kinds of information routinely being gathered, sold and bought by companies with relatively low public profiles.

Furthermore, he says he won't even back off this time:

One week before the 2018 deadline to certify the list of statewide propositions, Mactaggart and Democratic legislative leaders announced a compromise that was quickly signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.

Mactaggart doubted that he would do the same this time around.

“I don’t think any substantial gains like this are made in the Legislature,” he said. “I’m really happy what I did [in 2018]. It got us a beachhead. But I like the idea of having a new high-water mark that can’t be undone.”

So let's be clear: even if you agree with Mactaggart's position 100% and believe that his ballot initiative is good for personal privacy (which it is not), this is a horrible way to go about making privacy law. This is a rich guy, randomly throwing money at an issue that will get plenty of attention with almost no nuance or understanding, and setting levels that are nearly impossible to change, which will create all sorts of problems. It's not how policy should be made, no matter how you feel about privacy laws.

Filed Under: alastair mactaggart, california, policy making, privacy, referendum


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 11:07am

    You do realize what you just admitted, right...?

    “I don’t think any substantial gains like this are made in the Legislature,” he said. “I’m really happy what I did [in 2018]. It got us a beachhead. But I like the idea of having a new high-water mark that can’t be undone.”

    While that's a nice rephrasing of history there I wonder if he realizes that the message he just sent is to never agree to a compromise with him, as he will just take what you're offering and then push forward with what he wanted in it's entirely afterwards.

    'I can not be trusted to uphold my side of a bargain' is probably not the message he intended to send, but by his actions here that very much is what he ended up saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Skepticism Ensues - Scarborough Blames Russia, 27 Sep 2019 @ 12:14pm

    The old saying about sausage.

    Let's not just skim over the cause:

    left him startled when he learned about the kinds of information routinely being gathered, sold and bought by companies

    Now, Masnick, you soft safe sane little disingenuitor: can you even write that you don't support Silicon Valley's "surveillance capitalism" business model?

    Could your "sponsoring" by Silicon Valley including GOOGLE be at all relevant to your take on this? Why don't you EVER disclose your direct connection when discuss this area? HMM?

    https://copia.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sponsors.png

    You don't even deserve to be regarded with enough gravity to keep you on the planet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 12:31pm

      Do you have any proof that Google is a current sponsor of Copia>? Or do you intend to trot out that image as proof like you trot out the link to an eight-year-old comment to show off your oldest collected grievance?

      (P.S. — Mike’s not going to hatefuck you.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Skepticism Ensues - Scarborough Blames Russia, 27 Sep 2019 @ 12:17pm

    Oh, and your PHONY blaming The Rich whom otherwise ADORE?

    Disgusting. YOU are NOT a populist, IVY LEAGUE college-boy.

    You'll use ANY rhetoric to attack those who don't support your elitist, corporatist, and globalist goals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 1:59pm

      Re: Oh, and Blather

      You'll use ANY rhetoric to attack those who don't support your

      All we want to know is:

      How you can support the was Copyright is used by Corporations to suppress speech from real people?

      How is the moderation performed on Your website where Censorship and bad words are not allowed? (And how can you come down on Mike for allowing bad language?)

      And did you actually just accuse Stone of attacking you by being smarter than you are? Seriously!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2019 @ 12:30am

        Re: Re: Oh, and Blather

        Personally, I'm going to use his "You'll use ANY rhetoric to attack those who don't support your" blurb the next time he whines about people pointing out how AT&T done fucked up again.

        AT&T could sodomize a man on the other side of the street and blue will be there, demonstrating offense that the man pointed out AT&T didn't use lube.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 1:00pm

    tainted democracy

    ... "this is a horrible way to go about making privacy law. This is a rich guy, randomly throwing money at an issue "

    `

    so it's only in referendums where rich guys throw big money at issues to get their way ?

    normal elections and law making in legislatures are untainted by big money and lobbyists?

    which stupid California State legislators 'forced' through "the undercooked CCPA ... to get Mactaggart to back off " ??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 27 Sep 2019 @ 1:54pm

      Re: tainted democracy

      It's pointing out the California let's the rich bypass buying the legislature and go straight to buying the voters directly. They're both bad, but the second goes well beyond the pale.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 2:54pm

        Re: Re: tainted democracy

        Nice conflation there, but you don't "buy" votes in California. What is meant is that it's easier for rich people to pay for a referendum thanks to how California ballot laws work, not how they literally hand out cash to voters.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: tainted democracy

          so the citizens of California can be fully trusted to elect honest and competent legislators, but cannot be trusted to vote directly on ballot issues ??

          sounds like you don't trust the voters' judgement and wish to let the "professionals" do all the law-making -- which means you don't trust democracy.

          who made these California ballot laws and referendum laws -- the citizens or the "pros" in Sacramento ?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2019 @ 4:50pm

        Re: Re: tainted democracy

        so what good is democracy if the rich can buy both voters and legislators? You end up with plutocracy.
        or is this just a unique California problem?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      aa, 29 Sep 2019 @ 3:07am

      Re: tainted democracy

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      alternatives(), 29 Sep 2019 @ 3:10am

      Re: tainted democracy

      1) You do not have a Democracy - it is a representational Republic.
      2) There is already a "professional class" of reps - Bar Card carrying Lawyers.

      Lawyers are less then 5% and yet hold 15 or more % of the elected positions, depending on the state.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2019 @ 8:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually we do have a democracy.

        Democracy is a super class of types of governments. A representative republic is a sub-class of that. It is also true that there is another sub-class of democracy called Direct Democracy, where all decisions are made by popular vote of the citizenry. However, it would be entirely correct to say that a representative republic is a form of democracy.

        Therefore, people stating we have a democracy are not making an untrue statement. Indeed, most people when making the statement that America is a democracy, are in fact referencing the super class of government types, not the sub-class of Direct Democracy.

        That said, the US does contain an odd mixture of the two sub-classes. At the federal level, it is mostly a representative republic. But at the state and local level, you start to see some more forms of Direct Democracy, such as referendums on a ballot.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2019 @ 7:57am

    This is a rich guy, randomly throwing money at an issue that will get plenty of attention with almost no nuance or understanding, and setting levels that are nearly impossible to change, which will create all sorts of problems. It's not how policy should be made, no matter how you feel about privacy laws.

    There is a lot of hyperbole in this article and to be fair this is how democracy works. Up to the state level, at least, anyone can get a bill onto the ballot. Yeah, those with too much money have an easier time with this but your neighbor can fire up a grass roots effort to put a new law on the books, too. Without this we have a purely representative government and it's pretty fucking clear our representatives don't represent us, only those who source their funds.

    Also, it would have been nice to have some kind of explanation, anything really, of what makes his proposed bill bad instead of all the name calling, assertions without citation and lack of details.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Sep 2019 @ 9:12am

      your neighbor can fire up a grass roots effort to put a new law on the books, too

      Such an effort would take a lot of time to work its way through the proper channels. Rich people can afford to skip all that and write whatever law they want because they’re rich.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2019 @ 10:21am

        Re: grass roots

        ??

        ... he clearly stated that "Yeah, those with too much money have an easier time with this"
        Grass-Roots political initiatives are usually more difficult, but nonetheless arise frequently across America

        %%

        The original article here objected to a 'bad' privacy law, being presented as a standard California Ballot Initiative.

        That primary argument shifted to a lengthy critique of the person pushing this ballot initiative and the supposed undue influence of his wealth.

        Further shift was made to a vague criticism of the California Ballot Initiative process generally.
        Bottom line implication seems to be that citizen ballots for law-making are a bad idea because voters are too easily manipulated by individuals with lots of money.

        This ends up as a rather sweeping critique of the general law-making process and democracy generally, though that likely was not the intent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2019 @ 1:52am

      Re:

      Yep. Thats what I thought. Vapid name calling with no details.

      You're better than this, MM.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 30 Sep 2019 @ 7:09am

      Re:

      Up to the state level, at least, anyone can get a bill onto the ballot.

      That depends on the state. Almost half of the states have no such system.

      https://ballotpedia.org/States_with_initiative_or_referendum

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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