Dear Californians: You’re being misled

Please don’t actually read the proposed Consumer Privacy Act … 

Because I HAVE read the Consumer Privacy Act that’s being proposed in California, I can say with certainty that parts of it are bizarre. If you were to read it, you might find it reaches way, way, WAY further than you think. The message here is that while intentions are important, the details matter. A lot.

Here’s a crazy example: If I suspect that the stinky guy on the bus didn’t use deodorant this morning, it would be odd to think of that as his legally-protected personal information. So would the fact that I would need to disclose my suspicions to him, should he request it. How does this rule make it into a privacy law?

California Consumer Privacy Act, Sect 4.5 (c): categories of personal information

(8) Audio, electronic, visual, thermal, olfactory, or similar information

coupled with:

(11) Inferences drawn from any of the (10 categories) above.

Are you messing with us, California? What you *smell* like is personal information that you need legal protection for? That my concert selfie is the personal information of every bystander in the background, along with my opinion of that unfortunate tattoo I see?

I can close my eyes and pretend I understand what they’re trying to prevent, but they’re doing it wrong. If all information is personal, no information is special. We go from wild west to some weird police state in one step. California is about to make public information and free digital services illegal.

I don’t know who “Californians for Consumer Privacy” are, but I have to challenge what they’re creating here. I find it hard to believe that, if people understood the details, they’d agree with this plan.

You’re busy people, California. We get that. This is the reason we elect politicians with expert staff and pay them to debate bad laws before they pass them.


Bruce Gustafson