Consumer Action opposes California Proposition 24

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San Francisco, CA—Consumer Action has endorsed a "Vote No" position on Proposition 24 on the November 2020 ballot. Founded in 1971, Consumer Action is a leading California-based nonprofit consumer protection advocacy group. In doing so, Consumer Action joins groups advocating under the banner of Californians for Real Privacy—No on Proposition 24.

“We urge voters to reject Proposition 24. Besides sowing confusion among voters, the initiative could reduce privacy rights that Californians gained under a recently enacted law. It appears that Prop 24 would allow businesses to create new ‘pay for privacy’ schemes. Tech companies could downgrade service to those who cannot or will not pay an extra fee. This is unfair to low-income consumers, seniors and people of color who are already struggling to afford essential high-speed internet connections while enduring a pandemic and massive unemployment,” said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action. “We fear Prop 24 would undermine existing California privacy regulations by making it more burdensome for consumers to prohibit Big Tech companies from selling their confidential data.”

In the past week, the San Jose Mercury News and the Bay Area Reporter urged readers to vote no on Prop 24. The Mercury News editorial raises legitimate questions: “One provision of Prop 24 demonstrates why it doesn’t deserve support. It would allow the Legislature to approve an amendment with a simple majority vote—with this caveat: ‘The 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.’ Wow. How much ‘attention’ needs to be given to the impact on business and innovation? Does it mean that a law strengthening consumer privacy is illegal if it negatively impacts business? To what degree?...”

The Bay Area Reporter also argues for a “No” vote on Prop 24, stating that “in 2018, the Legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, giving consumers the right to find out what personal data companies are collecting, to opt out of having data collected, and to have that data scrubbed. We think there should be time to see how the new law works, and the Legislature can make fixes later if needed.”

Opposition to Prop 24 includes many respected organizations and individuals, including the ACLU of California, Consumer Federation of California, Color of Change, Public Citizen, TURN (The Utility Reform Network), California Alliance for Retired Americans, Media Alliance, labor and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, the Council on American-Islamic Relations of California, and Oakland Privacy. We join them in recommending a “No” vote on Prop 24 because it reduces the privacy rights of Californians under current law, and it gives tech giants more latitude to misuse Californians’ personal data.

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Consumer Action is a California-based nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promote economic justice, financial wellness, consumer literacy and privacy rights for underrepresented consumers. Consumer Action’s advocacy efforts, guides and complaint hotline help consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. More than 2,000 California community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and technical support.

 

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