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The Present

Andrew Yang backs California’s data privacy campaign

“Our data should be ours no matter what platforms and apps we use,” Yang said.

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019.
Key Takeaways
  • In November, Californians will vote to pass Proposition 24, which aims to expand data privacy laws in the state.
  • Proposition 24 aims to strengthen the California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect this year.
  • However, some privacy advocates say Proposition 24 doesn’t go far enough, and in some cases actually erodes the CCPA.

To get an idea of where the U.S. data privacy movement is heading, look to California.

In January, California established the nation’s most comprehensive set of state data privacy laws when its Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. The law enabled Californians to discover what types of personal information businesses were collecting, to request that companies delete personal data, and to opt-out of its sale.

But some privacy advocates say the CCPA doesn’t offer enough protection. On Monday, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang publicly supported Proposition 24, a measure on the November ballot that aims to strengthen the CCPA.

“The California Consumer Privacy Act was a major win for the state of California and the country, but we have to do more,” Yang said in a statement. “Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, and tech corporations are already lining up to undermine the CCPA. It’s up to us to protect consumers and strengthen our privacy rights to global standards. Our data should be ours no matter what platforms and apps we use.”

Proposition 24 would broaden the CCPA by allowing Californians to opt-out of data collection from businesses; making it harder for businesses to use “sensitive data” about things like race, sexual orientation, and finances for advertising; and creating a new agency that would enforce the state’s privacy laws, among other amendments.

Still, some advocates say even these additions to the CCPA don’t go far enough, including organizations like the ACLU of California, the Consumer Federation of California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Calling it a “mixed bag of partial steps backwards and forwards,” the EFF said it wouldn’t support Proposition 24 because (to name a few reasons) it:

  • Would expand “pay for privacy” schemes by allowing a company to withhold discounts unless consumers in loyalty clubs allow it to harvest certain data. This could lead to a society of privacy “haves” and “have-nots,” wrote the EFF.
  • Fails to establish an “opt-in” model of data collection. Under the CCPA, consumers have to opt-out of collection, which places the burden on consumers to protect privacy. “Privacy should be the default,” the EFF wrote.
  • Would expand the power of companies to refuse a consumer’s request to delete their data.

Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Campaigns In New Hampshire Ahead Of Primary(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

As for Yang? It’s unclear what the former presidential hopeful, whose campaign was based in part on data privacy, thinks of these critiques. But in a recent interview with KSRO, Yang said the U.S. lags far behind European nations in terms of data privacy laws, and that Proposition 24 would be a huge step towards our data dignity. He added that other states beyond California would likely follow suit if the proposal passes.

Yang is also spearheading the Data Dividend Project, a “movement dedicated to establishing and enforcing data property rights and to getting you compensated when companies monetize your data.” The project, which operates under the laws established by the CCPA, aims to tax tech companies when they use consumer data, and to support new data privacy legislation across the country. (Some critics have questioned the efficacy of the project.)

In an op-ed about his data dividend proposal published in the Los Angeles Times, Yang wrote:

“If Congress and other states adopt legislation like the CCPA, millions more would be able to band together with even greater bargaining power to hold tech companies accountable and, ultimately, demand that they share some of the revenue generated from consumers’ personal data.”


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