What's Hidden in Prop 24's

52 Pages of Fine Print

It's A Pay For Privacy Scheme

Prop 24 allows online “pay for privacy” schemes. Those who cannot afford to pay more for privacy may get inferior service, worse connections, slower downloads and pop-up ads. It’s an internet version of freeway express lanes for the wealthy and traffic jams for everyone else.

It’s hard enough for financially strapped Californians to access high-speed internet for essential services, healthcare, and school during a pandemic. Pay for privacy has racially discriminatory impacts, disproportionately pricing out working people, seniors, and Black and Latino families. All Californians deserve privacy, not just the wealthy.

Big Tech Helped Write Prop 24

Prop 24 was written behind closed doors with input from the giant corporations that collect our personal information and sell it. The wealthy businessman who funded the initiative made changes to an initial draft to accommodate Facebook and other tech giants. But he rejected almost every suggestion from eleven privacy groups to undo the initiative’s harm to our current privacy rights. The former President of the organization sponsoring this ballot measure urges a NO vote because it reduces our privacy rights.

No Privacy When You Travel

Under current California law, your privacy rights follow you wherever you go. Prop 24 changes the law. It allows big tech companies to capture all the personal information you stored on a phone, wearable app or computer, the minute you travel out of state with your device. Geolocation on devices makes it easy for tech companies to track your whereabouts and upload your data when you leave the state.

Harder To Stop Sale Of Information

Brand new technology is making it possible to place a setting on web browsers and cell phones that automatically signal every website and app you use to stop selling your personal data. Under current California law, businesses must honor these settings. Prop 24 changes the law and allows companies to ignore your automatic settings. It shifts the burden to the individual user to instruct hundreds of websites and apps individually to protect your data. Consumers should not be burdened with trying to navigate complicated cell phone and computer settings designed to exhaust us in order to protect our privacy.

Takes Away Worker Right To Know

Employers can obtain all kinds of personal information about their workers and job applicants, including things like using a fitness, diet, or pregnancy tracking app, where you go to worship or if you attend a political protest. Proposition 24 allows employers to continue secretly gathering this information for more years to come, overriding a new law that lets workers know what sensitive private information their bosses have beginning January 1, 2021.

Prop 24 Reflects Secret Talks With Credit Agency

A news reporter uncovered emails between the sponsor of Proposition 24 and a lobbyist for Experian, which is one of the world’s largest credit reporting companies with access to the credit ratings of 235 million Americans. As a result, the language in Prop 24 was changed to allow credit rating corporations to continue sharing credit data.

Sets A Ceiling On Privacy Law

Prop 24 contains language that makes it next to impossible for the legislature to fix its many takeaways or to strengthen our privacy rights. It states “This law should be amended, if necessary, to improve its operation, provided that the amendments do not compromise or weaken consumer privacy, while giving attention to the impact on business and innovation.” In other words, amendments are permitted to make the initiative work more smoothly, but not to improve privacy protections – and only if the amendments don’t hurt corporate profits. We will be stuck with all the privacy reductions in Prop 24 until another tycoon comes up with another initiative to fix it.

Weak Enforcement

Prop 24 creates a privacy protection agency that sounds good, but its enforcement is very weak. When big corporations get caught violating your privacy, all they have to do is cooperate and their only penalty will be a slap on the wrist. Without strict penalties for violations, businesses won’t have a strong deterrent to invading your privacy. 

Tycoon Landlord Is Sole Funder

Proposition 24 is written and entirely funded by Alastair Mactaggart. He is a wealthy landlord worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He admitted in an interview on PBS television that his real estate business was dependent on online advertising on Google and other big tech platforms, and they could “eradicate my business” if his initiative displeased them. He told the reporter that “I was scared” and he decided not to pursue an earlier, tougher initiative. He then returned with Prop 24. Should 40 million Californians allow one very rich businessman who runs his ads on big tech platforms decide our privacy rights?

Ink Barely Dry On New Privacy Law

The California Legislature passed new internet privacy laws that just became enforceable on July 1, 2020. California businesses had to spend billions of dollars to comply with its new the regulations. Prop 24 would change this brand new law again and force businesses to absorb even more costs at a time when the economic slowdown has many businesses already on the edge of closing their doors. We should find out how the law is working and amend it to strengthen privacy, instead of passing Prop 24 to reduce our new privacy rights.