California’s battle against the federal government rages on, this time on the issue of internet privacy. Back in March 2017, the US Congress approved a resolution to undo Obama-era internet privacy protections for consumers, and Trump of course signed it. Now our representatives in Sacramento are considering AB 375, a bill which would give us back the protections taken away by the federal government.
AB 375 would require internet service providers (ISPs) – namely AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – to get your consent before sharing or selling your information. It would also prohibit ISPs from charging you fees to keep your information confidential, or penalizing you if you opt for privacy.
In other words, the bill would give you some say-so over the companies that control the internet pipeline into your home, and that aim to profit off your personal information. As Representative Ed Chau, sponsor of AB 375, points out, your internet browsing history “can reveal highly sensitive information about you, including personal or sexual activities, political or religious interests, health or financial problems.”
“If your ISP wants to collect information about you while you’re surfing the web, and then use it for their own reasons, like selling targeted ads, they should ask your permission first,” Chau said.
Here’s a statement in support of AB 375 from our friends at Indivisible SF.
AB 375 has passed the Assembly, and has cleared the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee. In late August it’s likely to be heard by the Senate Rules and Appropriations Committees, then head to the Senate floor for a vote.
Nearly two dozen other states have introduced similar legislation, but California’s is furthest along in the legislative process, so once again our Golden State could take the lead and set a precedent for others to follow.