A millionaire who conquered the trillion-dollar tech industry last year by forcing new consumer privacy protections into California law is mounting a new effort that would strengthen the law aimed at the November 2020 ballot.
Bay Area real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart’s first ballot measure led to a deal in the Legislature to avoid a costly ballot fight. Starting in January, Californians will have the right to learn what companies like Facebook and Google know about them and to stop the sharing or selling of their data.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), who helped negotiate that deal, said rival efforts at the Capitol this year to both expand and weaken the law failed.
“A couple of minor things got to be fixed that needed to be fixed where there was needed some clarity,” he said. “But it certainly needs a bigger think about what to do about privacy.”
Hertzberg had hoped a more comprehensive measure could be negotiated and says he’s frustrated that didn’t happen.
“The truth of the matter is, we didn’t have a real negotiation and think through every angle,” he said. “It became interest group after interest group after interest group trying to protect their little piece of the pie.”
So on Wednesday, after consulting with Hertzberg, Mactaggart filed a new voter initiative with the Attorney General’s office. It would define what constitutes “sensitive personal information” and create a new state agency to regulate this rapidly evolving arena.
“Having seen the attempts to weaken what I see as a fundamental human right, I believe it is time to both permanently enshrine these rights, and to provide Californians the same level of protections that citizens have in the rest of the world,” Mactaggart said in a post on his campaign website Wednesday.
The Internet Association, a trade group that represents leading global Internet companies, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Mactaggart will need to turn in 623,212 valid voter signatures to qualify his measure for the November 2020 ballot.
Unlike last year’s proposal, Hertzberg said he doesn’t think this new initiative will overcome industry opposition in the Legislature, meaning there could be yet another high-profile ballot battle next fall.