If former California Senator Steve Peace and attorney Michael Thorsnes get their way, there could be a new California privacy law. The new California ballot initiative filed this month by Peace and Thorsnes would require opt-in for many things, unlike most of the U.S. which generally lets your information be scraped by marketers and then requires you to opt-out. The United States trails behind most of the European Union in this regard – the EU generally requires opt-in versus opt-out, and has much stricter rules on the use and protection of user privacy and information.
If Peace and Thorsnes and their supports gather enough signatures, the initiative will be on the ballot in November, 2014, and if passed will be effective January 2015.
Generaly speaking, if passed, it would create a presumption that all personally identifiable information collected in the course of business (commerical or governmental) must be kept confidential.
Moreover, ‘personally identifiable information’ is defined as any data “which can be used to distinguish or trace a natural person’s identity … whether taken alone, or when combined with other personal or identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific natural person.”
Which suggest that it covers, among other things, usernames and email addresses.
Disclosure (such as, sharing by selling mailing lists) can only be done with authorization of the individual (or if there is a overriding compelling interest, such as if law enforcement needs it).
Here is the full text of the California Personal Privacy Initiative. For more information contact Steve Peace and Michael Thorsnes, 3499 Heatherwood Dr., El Cajon, CA 92109
California Personal Privacy Initiative
Section 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the “California Personal Privacy Act.”
Section 2. Findings and Declarations
The California Constitution establishes the fundamental right of every person to pursue and
A natural person’s right to control and protect his or her personally identifying information is fundamental to his or her ability to pursue and obtain privacy.
Section 3. Article [XXXVI] is added to the California Constitution, to read:
ARTICLE [XXXVI] RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN PERSONALLY IDENTIFYING INFORMATION
SECTION 1. Whenever a natural person supplies personally identifying information to a
legal person that is engaged in collecting such information for a commercial or
governmental purpose, the personally identifying information shall be presumed to be
SEC. 2. Harm to a natural person shall be presumed whenever his or her confidential
personally identifying information has been disclosed without his or her authorization.
SEC. 3. Confidential personally identifying information may be disclosed without
authorization if there is a countervailing compelling interest to do so (such as public
safety or protected non-commercial free speech) and no reasonable alternative for
accomplishing such compelling interest.
SEC. 4. For the purposes of this article:
(a) “legal person” means any natural person or association, organization or other entity,
including, but not limited to, any partnership, corporation, limited liability company,
governmental body or subdivision thereof or other agency or body.
(b) “personally identifying information” means any information which can be used to
distinguish or trace a natural person’s identity, including but not limited to fmancial
and/or health information, whether taken alone, or when combined with other personal or
identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific natural person.
Section 4. Interpretation
This Act must be interpreted so as to be consistent with all federal and state laws, rules, and regulations. This Act must be broadly construed in order to achieve the purposes stated above. It is the intent of the voters that the provisions of this Act be interpreted or implemented in a manner that facilitates the purposes set forth in this Act.
Section 5. Severability
If any provision of this Act is found to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall not be affected. The voters declare that this Act, and every portion thereof, would have been passed irrespective of the fact a part may be found to be invalid.
If any provision of this Act is held invalid as applied to any person or circumstance, such invalidity does not affect any application of this Act that can be given effect without the invalid application.
Section 6. Amendments
The provisions of this Act may only be amended by a vote of the people in accordance with
Section 1 0( c) of Article II and Section 3 of Article XIX of the California Constitution.
Section 7. Conflicting Ballot Measures
(a) In the event that this Act conflicts with another measure appearing on the same ballot, the provisions of this Act shall prevail if it receives a greater number of affirmative votes. Each and every provision of the other measure shall be null and void in their entirety. In the event that the other measure receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this Act shall take effect to the extent permitted by law.
(b) If this Act is approved by voters but superseded by any other conflicting ballot measure
approved by the voters at the same election, and the conflicting ballot measure is later held
invalid, this Act shall be self-executing and given full force of law.
Section 8. Effective Date
The Act shall become effective upon January 1 of the year following the election at which the
voters approve this measure.
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