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EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

The New York Times reports that the proposed ballot measure dubbed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 would, if passed, “be one of the most meaningful checks in the United States on the growing power of Internet behemoths.” The initiative is the “passion project” of “a real estate developer, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst and a financial industry executive” who “have no political aspirations” but are simply “a little freaked out about tech firms gobbling up people’s personal data.”

The proposed measure “gives consumers the right to ask companies to disclose what data they have collected on them; the right to demand that they not sell the data or share with third parties for business purposes; and the right to sue or fine companies that violate the law.” Facebook, Google, California’s Chamber of Commerce and telecommunications companies, all against the measure, are expected to spend $100 million to defeat it.

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“One of the reasons why it’s brought as a ballot initiative is that there is consensus that Silicon Valley owns Sacramento,” said Chris Hoofnagle, an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and an adviser for the initiative. “There’s no prospect of any consequential consumer privacy legislation.”

After considering various options, they decided against taking a hard-line approach. Companies can still use personal data for their own purposes to sell advertising or improve products. They would be restricted, however, from selling or disclosing that data to someone else for “business purposes” upon a consumer’s request.

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