The Right to Know: New Proposed Bill in California will Aid Consumers in Privacy Protection


Privacy is a freedom that we should be able to enjoy, a right that is specific to our personal identities.  A lot of people, who are like us, are unaware of companies collecting our private and personalized data.  In contrast, some of us are aware, and have disdain due to the circumstance that privacy is at risk of being violated by companies, small and large alike, and growing ever more cautious about what is out there in regards to who we are.  Under the laws that already exist in California, users may contact companies and request a disclosure, but that is limited in the case that they only need to tell you which companies will send out spam, phone calls, or mail.

 In an effort to aid users gain more disclosure, a diverse coalition in California, which includes the ACLU, has introduced a "Right to Know" Act, which aims to strengthen consumer protections based on the massive exchange on personal data.  Personal data, which at this time, is bought and sold in a market and is based off of who we are on many levels of criteria, ranging from income to gender.  The California Right to Know Act 2013, authored by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, would require a company who stores personal data, to give users access to the personalized data upon request, and also to give a list of any other company that such data was shared with.



A press release states:

"Today, our personal data is everywhere – we share it when using mobile phone apps, search engines and websites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies buy and sell it for profit," said Lowenthal. "As technology advances, so should our consumer protections."


And from the ACLU website:

The California Right to Know Act (AB 1291- Lowenthal) will modernize current privacy law and give Californians an effective tool to monitor how personal information, including about health, finances, your location, politics, religious, sexual orientation, buying habits, and more, is being collected and disclosed in unexpected and potentially harmful ways.



Basically, the current law only provides a report on data which is bartered for direct marketing, which allows businesses and nonprofits organizations to communicate straight to the customer, with methods that can include text messaging, email, interactive consumer websites, ads displayed online, catalog distribution, promotions, and outdoor advertising.  The proposed Right to Know Act would extend the existing law to provide a way for users to trace the data collected from their online activities, and details an addition to the law which covers location data, which is not fully protected under the current law's provisions.

The coalition who proposed the Right to Know Act of 2013 in California consists of ACLU of California, California NOW, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG), Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of California, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet Sexuality Information Services, Privacy Activism, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, World Privacy Forum.



[Source: ACLU of California]

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