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Opinion: Protect privacy — CA should have voted no on Proposition 24

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Proposition 24 was recently passed to replace the current California Privacy Act in an attempt to help strengthen California privacy, as reported by CNET.

Proposition 24 is an act that is supposed to prevent companies from sharing the personal information of a consumer, but there are holes in the proposition that makes consumers more vulnerable. Allowing proposition 24 to pass causes companies to benefit through continuing to steal personal information from consumers.

Those who supported Proposition 24 believe that it would strengthen their individual rights. They first argued that this proposition will close many loopholes in the current California Privacy Act. One loophole it would close is to prevent companies and businesses from “sharing” personal information.

Former Chair of the Democratic Party John Burton claimed that: “Corporations have spent the past two years working to unravel the rights we fought so hard to create, using deceptive tactics to undermine our privacy.”

These advocates also said that websites sometimes have “cookie walls,” also known as a tracking wall, which forced users to accept it to be able to access the site.

In addition to these loopholes, Proposition 24 will create a new state agency which will help in protecting consumers. Even though these arguments seem valid and Proposition 24 can do some good in protecting the privacy of consumers, it is still not enough to protect the people’s privacy.

Advocates of Proposition 24 argued that it will strengthen privacy for individuals, but numerous loopholes would make consumers more vulnerable. One loophole that would weaken privacy is that companies could be permitted to “pull private information off people’s devices the moment they leave the state,” according to the ACLU.

In the current California Privacy Act that’s already in place, when you leave the state, businesses are not allowed to take information from a person. When Proposition 24 passed, this protection was reversed, and companies are now allowed to steal personal information from individuals as soon as you leave the state.

Proposition 24 also weakens the protection of biometric data which includes fingerprints, faceprints, and DNA. According to the League of Women voters of California, the current law protects biometric data if it is used to identify a consumer, but the new proposition only protects this data if it is intended to be used to identify a consumer. With these critical loopholes, Proposition 24 actually weakened privacy protections for Californians. 

Along with the loopholes, Proposition 24 causes Californians to pay for their privacy. This proposition actually allows companies to benefit from charging consumers for privacy. American Civil Liberties Union’s Jacob Snow explains Proposition 24 allows companies to utilize personal information without getting your permission, then increasing charges when you ask for privacy. 

Online privacy is needed more than ever now since the ongoing pandemic has caused many people in California to work online, and thus more of our personal data is transmitted through the internet. Pay for privacy also creates a divide between the rich and poor.

Lower-income families, immigrants and individuals need just as much privacy as anyone else but will not be able to if they have to pay companies for it. This is especially true during these troubling times, and people should not have to choose between buying necessities or privacy. Privacy should not be a luxury for well to do people. Privacy protection should be a right that everyone has.

Proposition 24 may have some valid arguments that would help the people of California, but voting no on the proposition would have led to better outcomes. This proposition has the potential to damage vulnerable consumers instead of protecting the people.

Voting no on Proposition 24 would have helped the people of California move forward on a privacy act that protects the people, not an act that helps companies profit. 

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