California state lawmakers ended their legislative session yesterday without enacting privacy protections for broadband customers after the proposed rule drew opposition from Internet service providers and advertisers.
“By failing to pass A.B. 375, the legislature demonstrated that they put the profits of Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast over the privacy rights of their constituents,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation said today.
The California legislation would have required ISPs to obtain customers’ permission before they use, share, or sell the customers’ Web browsing and application usage histories. The data is valuable for serving personalized advertisements to Internet users. But the bill was shelved before reaching a final vote.
The bill would have essentially replicated federal rules that were blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump before they could be implemented. The bill would have prohibited ISPs from refusing to serve, or limiting service to, customers who don’t opt into data sharing. The bill also would have prohibited ISPs from charging customers more if they refuse to waive their privacy rights.
“But despite the appeal of resisting Trump—a favorite topic for lawmakers—the bill never saw action,” The Mercury News reported.
The California legislature is controlled by Democrats, who generally support the opt-in privacy requirements. But the legislature “kowtowed to an aggressive lobbying campaign, from telecommunications corporations and Internet companies, which included spurious claims and false social media advertisements about cybersecurity,” the EFF said.
Internet providers, advertisers, and tech companies had urged California state senators to vote against the proposed law earlier this week.
The legislation is stalled for the rest of this year, but could be proposed again in 2018, the EFF said. Privacy protections could also be the subject of a ballot question. “A ballot initiative
proposed this month would give California consumers the right to know what personal information businesses are collecting, what they do with it and to whom they are selling it,” the Los Angeles Times wrote.