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California's Right to Know Act stalls after opposition from tech lobby

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bonnie lowenthal (official)
bonnie lowenthal (official)

The fight in California to liberate people’s personal information from the companies that track them online has been put on hold for the rest of the year. Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal recently announced her decision to stall her Right to Know Act of 2013, delaying action until sometime next year. In a press release, Lowenthal says that the bill, which would let Californians ask businesses what it knows about them and who it’s sharing that information with, has broad support, “but in the legislature, it has become clear that we still have our work cut out for us.”

The ACLU points out that despite commitments to transparency from companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, industry groups that represent them like TechAmerica have been lobbying against Right to Know, claiming it’s “unworkable” and “rests on mistaken assumptions about how the internet works.” The ACLU subsequently rebutted the claims in detail, drawing attention to stock-market-like exchanges for consumer information and the ramifications of privacy breaches. Despite the bill being delayed until 2014, Lowenthal is still confident that it will pass. “There was a time when Americans couldn’t get a copy of their credit report,” she said.