Tag Archives: California

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.


Governor Newsom Signs Social Media Transparency Measure



California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he has signed a first-of-its kind social media transparency measure to protect Californians from hate and disinformation spread online. Bill 587 was proposed by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – Encino) and is called “Social media companies: terms of service”. The law requires social media companies to report data on their enforcement of the policies.

Obviously, this bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Newsom, provides protection to people who live in California. It does not to cover people who do not live in California.

This is, in some ways, similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which became law in 2018. It gave Californians the right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared; the right to delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions); the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information; and the right to non-discrimination for exercising their CCPA rights.

“California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country,” said Governor Newsom. “Californians deserve to know how these platforms are impacting our public discourse, and this brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the policies that shape the social media content we consume every day. I thank Assemblymember Gabriel for championing this important measure to protect Californias from hate, harassment and lies spread online.”

The Verge reported that Governor Newsom signed a law aimed at making web platforms monitor hate speech, extremism, harassment, and other objectionable behaviors. The Governor signed it after it passed the state legislature last month, despite concerns that the bill might violate First Amendment speech protections.

According to The Verge, AB 587 requires social media companies to post their terms of service online, as well as submit a twice-yearly report to the California Attorney General. The report must include details about whether the platform defines and moderates several categories of content including “hate speech or racism,” “extremism or radicalization,” “disinformation or misinformation,” “harassment,” and “foreign political interference.”

The law also requires social media companies to offer details about automated content moderation, how many times people viewed content that was flagged for removal and how the content was handled. AB 587 fits well with AB 2273, which is intended to tighten regulations for children’s social media use.

Personally, I think that AB 587 is a great idea. It might be exactly the push that social media companies need in order for them to actually remove hate speech, racism, extremism, misinformation, and everything else the bill requires. It would be great if social media companies removed the accounts of people who are posting threats of violence and/or engaging in harassment on their platform.

I remember when Twitter was brand new, and we all had less characters to use to say something. Back then, it was easy to find like-minded people who were also on Twitter. (For me, it was mostly fellow podcasters). I’d love to see Twitter go back to the good old days.


California Bill AB5 Turns Contract Workers into Employees



California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) will reclassify many contract workers in California into full employees with benefits. It doesn’t cover all types of contract workers, and is anticipated to affect companies like Uber and Lyft the most.

The New York Times reported that AB5 passed the California State Senate in a 29 to 11 vote. California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, endorsed the bill this month and is expected to sign it. If signed, the measure will go into effect on January 1, 2020. State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (Democrat – Los Angeles) authored the bill.

The bill redefines “employee” using an existing law that includes an “ABC” test to establish whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. It says a worker is an employee if the worker’s tasks are performed under a company’s control; those tasks are central to that company’s business; and the worker does not have an independent enterprise in that trade.

Those who are considered employees under this bill will have access to basic protections such as a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and perhaps access to health insurance coverage.

Personally, I am an independent contract worker – not an employee. None of the work I do for a living could be considered “central to that company’s business”. That said, people who are part of the gig economy and who drive for companies who produce ride-hailing apps, could be considered employees. They are doing the work that is central to the the business of Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash.

According to The New York Times, Uber and Lyft have “repeatedly warned that they will have to start scheduling drivers in advance if they are employees, reducing drivers’ ability to work when and where they want”. But, this is nonsense. There is absolutely nothing in AB5 that requires companies to “schedule drivers in advance”. It is possible that Uber and/or Lyft will retaliate by raising the prices for rides – but this will ultimately backfire because public transit is always going to be less expensive.

There are lists of professions who are exempt from AB5. Those professions include: doctors, dentists, psychologists, insurance agents, stockbrokers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, direct sellers, real estate agents, hairstylists, commercial fisherman, travel agents, and graphic designers.


California Law Bans Bots from Pretending to be Real People



California has passed a law that went into effect on July 1, 2019. It amends part of the state’s existing Business and Professions Code. The purpose of the amendment is to require bots to make it clear that they are not a human.

The “Bots: disclosure” amendment includes the following:

It shall be unlawful for any person to use a bot to communicate with or interact with another person in California online, with the intent to mislead the other person about its artificial identity for the purpose of knowingly deceiving the person about the content of the communication in order to incentivize a purchase or sale of goods or services in a commercial transaction or to influence a vote in an election. A person using a bot shall not be liable under this section if the person discloses that it is a bot.

A “bot” is defined as: “an automated online account where all or substantially all of the actions or posts of that account are not the result of a person.”

A “person” is defined as: “a natural person, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, joint venture, association, estate, trust, government, governmental subdivision or agency, or other legal entity or any combination thereof.”

According to The New Yorker “Violators could face fines under the statutes related to unfair competition.” The article points out that California is “testing society’s resolve to get our (virtual) house in order after more than two decades of a runaway Internet.”

The legislation is a California state law. This means that the person behind a bot will have to disclose itself as a bot if it communicates with people who live in California. That said, those who are running bots will, by default, likely have to disclose that they are a bot to everyone on social media in order to avoid being fined by California’s law.


California’s Net Neutrality Bill is Now a Law



California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 882. This means that California has enacted the strongest net neutrality protections in the United States. The law will go into effect next year. It is a big win for consumers in California.

As you may have expected, the U.S. Justice Department has decided to sue the state of California, claiming that its net neutrality law is “extreme and illegal” and something about states not being allowed to regulate interstate commerce.

Personally, I don’t think the U.S. Justice Department has a case. California has enacted stronger auto emission standards than many other states – and the auto industry has complied. California is among other states that require health insurance providers to cover the preventative health benefits that are part of the Affordable Care Act – and the health care industries are still in the Marketplace. There’s no good reason why internet providers should be allowed to trump state’s rights.

The other reason I think the U.S. Justice Department doesn’t have a case is because of the shenanigans that happened when the FCC had a comment period about their repeal of net neutrality rules. As many as 2 million fake comments appeared, some of which stole the identities of real Americans. Some people found that their deceased relatives had magically posted anti-net neutrality comments from beyond the grave.

It is illogical to assume that a situation that started off with lies and shenanigans could result in a winning court case.

Image from Pixabay


California Legislature Passed a Strong Net Neutrality Bill



The California Legislature has passed SB 822, a strong internet neutrality bill. The vote was 27 -12. Next, the bill goes to Governor Jerry Brown.

SB 822 would restore the net neutrality rules that were enacted federally under former President Barack Obama. Those rules were repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December of 2017.

In May of 2018, the United States Senate overturned the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules by using the Congressional Review Act. But, for net neutrality to be reinstated federally, the House of Representatives would also have to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the FCCs repeal of net neutrality – and then President Trump would have to sign it into law.

In my opinion, this is why some state legislatures are passing their own net neutrality bills. It seems to me that states can enact net neutrality legislation faster than the federal government will.

California also has a unique reason to pass a strong net neutrality bill. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s command vehicle faced email delays and challenges updating web-based documents with critical information about deployment during the Mendocino Complex fire.

Their internet provider was Verizon Wireless, who (according to the Los Angeles Times) “throttled down the department’s connection to 1/200 or less than previous speeds because the agency had exceeded its data plan limit.” Verizon says the situation was a “customer support mistake” and has nothing to do with net neutrality.

I live in California, and am hoping that this bill becomes law. Net neutrality is especially important for people who have chronic illnesses and/or disabilities (myself included) who are unable to work a typical job. Many of us are able to earn some income online because we can fit that work around our health issues and doctor appointments.

SB 822 (if signed into law) will prohibit internet service providers from:

  • Blocking lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.
  • Engaging in zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, from a third party.
  • Zero-rating some internet content, applications, services, or devices in a category – but not the entire category.
  • Unreasonably interfering with, or unreasonably disadvantaging, either an end user’s ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service or the lawful internet content, applications, service, or devices of the end user’s choice, or an edge provider’s ability to make lawful content, applications, services, or devices available to end users.