Tag Archives: California

Google Removing Links To California News Websites

Google will begin removing links to California news websites from search engines for some Californians in response to a bill that would require online ad companies to pay a fee for connecting state residents to news sources, CNBC reported.

In a blog post on Friday announcing the “short-term test,” Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president of global news partnership, said the bill, called the California Journalism Preservation Act, represents “the wrong approach to supporting journalism” and “would create a level of business uncertainty that no company would accept.”

The bill was introduced last year and remains pending in the state legislature.

The recent developments have upended many online publishers that count on Facebook and Google for traffic and are particularly painful for publications that rely on advertising revenue.

Jaffer Zaidi, VP of Global News Partnerships, posted information on The Keyword. Here are some key points:

A pending bill in the California state legislature, the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) would create a “link tax” that would require Google to pay for simply connecting Californians to news articles. We have long said that this is the wrong approach to supporting journalism. If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers…

…To be clear, we believe CJPA undermines news in California. We don’t take these decisions lightly and want to be transparent with California publishers, lawmakers, and our users. To avoid an outcome where all parties lose and the California news industry is left worse off, we urge lawmakers to take a different approach…

Gizmodo reported Google began blocking access to California news outlets for some users in the state, according to an announcement from the tech giant on Friday. And it’s all because Google is upset about proposed legislation that would force the company to pay some publishers for their content, something it’s calling a “link tax.”

Known as the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) the bill has passed Californias lower house, known as the Assembly, but still needs to be taken up by the state Senate and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom to become law. Newson hasn’t come out with an opinion on the legislation yet.

And while it’s certainly true that Google helps people find news stories, the problem is that much of the advertising money has gone to Big Tech platforms like Google and Facebook rather than the publishers who create the news content. That’s what this bill is trying to remedy in some way, forcing Google to pay publishers.

As a Californian, if CJPA passes and is signed into law, it likely won’t harm Californians. Google is not the only source of news online. DuckDuckGo, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft Edge can all be useful.

California Right To Repair Signed Into Law

IFixit wrote: Today (October 10) marks a monumental step forward in the Right to Repair movement. We’re elated to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom has officially signed the California Right to Repair Act, SB 244, into law. This groundbreaking legislation passed the legislature almost unanimously last month.

It has been championed by state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman and is cosponsored by iFixit, along with our colleagues in the more-fixable-stuff fight. CALPRIG (the California Public Interest Research Group), and Californians Against Waste.

“This is a victory for consumers and the planet, and it just makes sense,” said Jenn Engstron, state director of CALPRIG. “Right now, we mine the planet’s precious minerals, use them to make amazing phones and other electronics, ship these products across the world, and then toss them away after just a few years’ use. What a waste. We should make stuff that lasts and be able to fix our stuff when it breaks, and now thanks to years of advocacy, Californian’s will finally be able to, with the Right to Repair.”

The tech revolution started here in California, IFixit wrote, so it’s appropriate that we’re working to fix the problems of Big Tech here, too. With access to original parts, tools, and documentation, independent repair shops will be able to compete again. And Californians across the state – accounting for 1 out of every 8 Americans – will be able to fix things however they see fit.

With California’s new law, the Golden State joins Minnesota and New York, representing nearly 20% of the US population, in guaranteeing people more control over their electronic devices. The bill goes above and beyond those laws, mandating manufacturers to keep repair materials available for up to seven years, ensuring the longevity of products and reducing electronic waste.

Covered products: all electronic and appliance products that cost $50 or more sold in California after July 1, 2021 (everything in Section 9801 of the Business and Professions code, which was just updated this session in another bill, SB 814)

Effective date: July 1, 2024

Difference from other states: includes 3 years of parts, tools, and documentation support for products that cost $50-$99.99; 7 years for products $100+

Exemptions: game consoles, alarm systems, agricultural and forestry equipment

The Verge reported California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed SB 244, or the Right to Repair Act, into law, making it easier for owners to repair devices themselves or to take them to independent repair shops. Because California is one of the world’s largest economies, this iFixit-cosponsored bill may make it easier for people all over the US to repair their devices.

According to The Verge, California is home to a number of device makers, most notably Apple, which came out in support of the bill after initially trying to stall it. As a practical matter, the California law may benefit consumers in places without such laws. For instance, Google, also headquartered in California, recently confirmed that the Pixel 8 series will get seven years of spare parts – the same number the California bill mandates.

As a Californian, I think the Right to Repair law is going to significantly help people who need to fix, swap out parts, or otherwise tinker with their devices. My hope is that this will cause the repair shops (some of which have closed) to start back up again.

California Hits Google For $93M Over Deceptive Location Data

A lawsuit filed against Google by California’s Attorney General over the company’s deceptive and misleading options for managing location data has resulted in a $93 million settlement – and new protections for consumers in the state, TechCrunch reported.

As detailed in an incredibly straightforward complaint, Google in several ways appeared to promise users that they could choose whether or how much location data was used in order to target them for advertisements.

Location History is one of several detailed records Google keeps of your activity – you can turn it off here if you haven’t already, TechCrunch noted.

According to TechCrunch, this particular setting is off by default, but users were repeatedly told they should “enhance” their Google Maps experience with the responses “Yes, I’m in” or “Skip for now.” Little did they know agreeing would turn on Location History for purposes far beyond “enhancing” Maps.

Here’s how the AG’s office summarized what Google must now do, for Californians at least:

* Show additional information to users when enabling location-related account settings.

* Provide more transparency about location tracking.

* Provide users with detailed information about the location data that Google collected and how it is used through a “Location Technologies” web page.

* Disclose to users that their location information may be used for ads personalization

* Disclose to users before using Location History data to build ad targeting profiles for users

* Obtain review by Google’s internal Privacy Working Group

* Obtain review by Google’s Internal Privacy Working Group and document approval for all material changes to location-setting and ads personalization disclosures that will have a material impact on privacy.

The Guardian reported that the settlement stems from a lawsuit brought by the California attorney general, Rob Bonta, that concluded the company misled consumers into believing they had more control over their location information than they actually did.

“Our investigation revealed that Google was telling its uses one thing – that it would no longer track their location once they opted out – but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its own commercial gain,” Bonta said in a statement announcing the settlement. “That’s unacceptable, and we’re holding Google accountable.”

According to The Guardian, the AG’s office further alleged that Google “deceived users about their ability to opt out of advertisements targeted to their location.”

CNN reported that California Department of Justice found that, after a multi-year investigation, the tech giant was “deceiving users by collecting, storing, and using their location data for consumer profiling and advertising purposes without informed consent.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta also said Google accepted taking future actions to prevent those practices. These actions would apply beyond California to other states, according to the proposed order.

The Hill reported that José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement that “consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”

According to The Hill, the settlement with California comes after Google settled with 40 other states in November for $391.5 million over similar allegations.

As a person who lives in California, I am well aware that the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (updated on May 10, 2023) gives consumers who live in California more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them. The huge fine set by the Attorney General should cause Google to think twice about playing around with people’s privacy rights.

X Is Suing California Over Social Media Content Moderation Law

X, the social media company previously known as Twitter, is suing the state of California over a law that requires companies to disclose details about their content moderation practices, Engadget reported.

The law, known as AB 587, requires social media companies to publish information about their handling of hate speech, extremism, misinformation and other issues, as well as details about internal moderation processes.

According to Engadget, lawyers for X argue that the law is unconstitutional and will lead to censorship. It “has both the purpose and likely effect of pressuring companies such as X Corp. to remove, demonetize, or deprioritize constitutionally-protected speech,” the company wrote in the lawsuit. “The true intent of AB 587 is to pressure social media platforms to ‘eliminate’ certain constitutionally-protected content viewed by the State as problematic.”

ArsTechnica reported that Elon Musk’s X Corp. sued to block California’s content moderation law, AB 587. In its complaint, filed by a US district court in California, X Corp. is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction stopping California Attorney Robert Bonta from enforcing the law.

According to ArsTechnica, AB 587 passed in September 2022, requiring social media platforms to submit a “terms of service report” semi-annually to California’s attorney general, providing “a detailed description of content moderation practices used” and “information about whether, and if so how, the social media company defines and moderates” hate speech or racism, extremism or radicalization, disinformation or misinformation, harassment, and foreign political interference.” Under the law, social media platforms must also provide information and statistics on any content moderation actions taken in those categories.

The law stipulated that all platforms were required to start collecting data for their first terms of service report covering content moderation during the third quarter of 2023 and submit those reports to California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta by January 1, 2024.

Platforms could be found violating the law for failing to post terms of service about content moderation, missing a deadline to submit a terms of service report, or materially omitting or misrepresenting information about content moderation. Any platform violating the law risks fines – which X described as “draconian financial penalties” – up to $15,000 per violation per day.

TechCrunch reported that AB 587 was signed into law a year ago. At the time, California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote: “Californian’s deserve to know how these platforms are impacting our public discourse, and this action brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the policies that shape the social media content we consume every day.”

According to TechCrunch, California has definitely placed itself at the heavier end of the government involvement spectrum, partly because of the states’ inherently progressive character and partly because, as the cradle and playground for many of these companies, it enjoys a particular attainment to and influence on their affairs. California’s privacy bill, for instance, is widely seen as a precursor to a national law similarly attempting to protect consumers from the depredations of tech companies.

The tendency is at odds with the philosophy of Elon Musk, owner of X/Twitter and self-described “free speech absolutist.” After more or less eliminating the teams and efforts at the company dedicated to defining and responding to matters like hate speech and disinformation, he may find it difficult to comply with AB 587 even if he did not find doing so objectionable.

In my opinion, proclaiming yourself to be a “free speech absolutist” is not going to cause California to suddenly drop AB 587. It appears that this specific California law could potentially be accepted by various other like-minded states. If so, then that would put more pressure on X to follow that law.

California Regulators Close SVB And Name FDIC As Receiver

Financial regulators have closed Silicon Valley Bank and taken control of its deposits, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced Friday, in what is the largest U.S. bank failure since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, CNBC reported.

The collapse of SVB, a key player in the tech and venture capital community, leaves companies and wealthy individuals largely unsure of what will happen to their money.

According to press releases from regulators, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed SVB and and named FDIC as the receiver. The FDIC in turn has created the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara, which now holds insured deposits from SVB.

The FDIC said in the announcement that insured depositors will have access to their deposits no later than Monday morning. SVB’s branch offices will also reopen at that time, under control of the regulator.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) posted a press release titled: “FDIC Creates a Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara to Protect Insured Depositors of Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, California” From the press release:

“Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, California, was closed today by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as the receiver. To protect insured depositors, the FDIC created the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Santa Clara (DINB). At the time of closing, the FDIC as receiver immediately transferred to the DINB all insured deposits of Silicon Valley Bank.

“All insured depositors will have full access to their insured deposits no later than Monday morning, March 13, 2023. The FDIC will pay uninsured depositors an advanced dividend within the next week. Uninsured depositors will receive a receivership certificate for the remaining amount of their uninsured funds. As the FDIC sells the assets of Silicon Valley Bank, future dividend payments may be made to uninsured depositors.

“Silicon Valley Bank had 17 branches in California and Massachusetts. The main office and all branches of Silicon Valley Bank will reopen on Monday, March 13, 2023. The DINB will maintain Silicon Valley Bank’s normal business hours. Banking activities will resume no later than Monday, March 13, including on-line banking and other services. Silicon Valley Bank’s official checks will continue to clear. Under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, the FDIC may create a DINB to ensure that customers have continued access to their insured funds…

“…Customers with accounts in excess of $250,000 should contact the FDIC toll-free at 1-866-799-0959…

The Wall Street Journal reported that the bank is the 16th largest in the U.S., with some $209 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, according to the Federal Reserve. It is by far the biggest bank to fail since the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, second only to the crisis-era collapse of Washington Mutual Inc.

The bank’s parent company, SVB Financial Group, was racing to find a buyer after scrapping a planned $2.25 billion share sale Friday morning. Regulators weren’t willing to wait. The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation closed the bank Friday within hours and put it under the control of the FDIC.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the bank’s troubles have dragged down the entire industry. The four largest U.S. banks lost some $52 billion in market value Thursday, and a broader index of bank stocks had its worst day in nearly three years. Bank stocks continue to plunge Friday with a number halted for volatility.

Overall, I find this situation to be disturbing. Bank failures are serious situations. This one in particular seems to be primarily affecting extremely wealthy people, who will very likely get their money back – eventually.

California Governor Signs Bill Protecting Children’s Online Data And Privacy

California Governor Newsom announced that he has signed bipartisan landmark legislation aimed at protecting the wellbeing, data, and privacy of children using online platforms.

AB 2273 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), establishes the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which requires online platforms to consider the best interest of child users and to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.

AB 2273 prohibits companies that provide online services, products or features likely to be accessed by children from using a child’s personal information; collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation; profiling a child by default; and leading or encouraging children to provide personal information.

The bill also requires privacy information, terms of service, policies, and community standards be easily accessible and upheld – and requires responsive tools to help children exercise their privacy rights. This bipartisan legislation strikes a balance that protects kids, and ensure that technology companies will have clear rules of the road that will allow them to continue to innovate.

The Children’s Data Protection Working Group will be established as part of the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act to deliver a report to the Legislature, by January 2024, on the best practices for implementation.

AB 2273 requires businesses with an online presence to complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment before offering new online services, products, or features likely to be accessed by children.

Provided to the California Attorney General, the Data Protection Impact Assessments must identify the purpose of the online service, product, or feature, how it uses children’s personal information, and the risks of material detriment to children that arise from the data management practices.

The New York Times reported that despite opposition from the tech industry, the State Legislature unanimously approved the bill at the end of August. It is the first state statute in the nation requiring online services likely to be used by youngsters to install wide-ranging safeguards for users under 18.

According to The New York Times, the measure will require sites and apps to curb the risks that certain popular features – like allowing strangers to message one another – may pose to younger users. It will also require online services to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for children.

The New York Times also reported that the California measure could apply to a wide range of popular digital products that people under 18 are likely to use: social networks, game platforms, connected toys, voice assistants and digital learning tools for schools. It could also affect children far beyond the state, prompting some services to introduce changes nationwide, rather than treat minors in California differently.

Personally, I think that California’s AB 2273 is a great idea! I believe that every parent wants to make sure that their children will be safe when engaging in online video games, social networks, and other things that kids tend to like. It will be even better when these protections are established nationwide, to provide protection for all children in the United States.

California Attorney General Sues Amazon For Blocking Price Competition

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that the company stifled competition and caused increased prices across California through anticompetitive contracting practices in violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Cartwright Act.

Further information includes:

In order to avoid competing on prices with other online e-commerce sites, Amazon requires merchants to enter into agreements that severely penalize them if their products are offered for a lower price off-Amazon. In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta alleges that these agreements thwart the ability of other online retailers to compete, contributing to Amazon’s dominance in the online retail marketplace and harming merchants and consumers through inflated fees and higher prices.

“For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Amazon coerces merchants into agreement that keep prices artificially high, knowing full well they can’t afford to say no. With other e-commerce platforms unable to compete on price, consumers turn to Amazon as a one-stop shop for all their purchases. This perpetuates Amazon’s market dominance, allowing the company to make increasingly untenable demands on its merchants and costing consumers more at checkout across California…”

The Attorney General provided information about the lawsuit against Amazon and requested relief:

The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks an order from the San Francisco Superior Court that stops Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior and recovers the damages to California consumers and the California economy. Specifically, the lawsuit asks the Court to:

  • Prohibit Amazon from entering into and enforcing its anticompetitive contracts that harm price competition;
  • Require Amazon to affirmatively notify vendors that it does not require sellers to offer prices on par with off-Amazon prices;
  • Appoint a Court-approved monitor, to ensure Amazon’s compliance with the Court’s order;
  • Order damages to compensate for the harms to consumers through increased prices; and
  • Order Amazon to return its ill-gotten gains and pay penalties to serve as a deterrent to other companies contemplating similar actions.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the suit is the result of an investigation the began in early 2020. It seeks unspecified damages for harm to the state economy and $2,500 for each violation of the state’s civil and professional code proved at trial.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit represents the biggest legal challenge to date in the U.S. for Amazon, which was previously sued by the District of Columbia and is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, the European Union, and a congressional committee. Because California is the nation’s most populous state and biggest economy, its business regulations have long swayed how companies operate across the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.

If things work out the way Attorney General Bonta wants them to, I think it will could cause other states to create similar lawsuits against Amazon. The result could potentially make it less expensive for people to buy products from Amazon.