NPR's All Things Considered: Do Not Sell My Personal Information: California Eyes Data Privacy Measure

May 28, 2018

As Europe's sweeping new privacy law went into effect on Friday, California voters may get to decide on strict privacy laws for their state.

An initiative likely headed for November's ballot in California would be one of the broadest online privacy regulations in the U.S. and could impact standards throughout the country.

One of the initiative's biggest backers is Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer. Mactaggart has put more than $2 million of his own money into getting the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 on the ballot. The initiative hasn't been officially certified by the state, but it has gotten more than 600,000 signatures, nearly twice what it needs to qualify.

Mactaggart recalls the moment about four years ago that turned him into a privacy advocate. He asked a Google engineer at a cocktail party whether he should be worried about his privacy. "He said, 'Oh if you just knew how much we knew about you, you'd be really worried,' " recalls Mactaggart.

Mactaggart says he and a small group of his neighbors consulted with academics, lawyers and technologists to write a bill they hope will curb privacy abuses. "What people are concerned about is misuse of their data," Mactaggart says, "and so we give people the right to say, 'Stop selling my information.' "

If voters approve the measure, businesses will be required to have a "clear and conspicuous link" on their website's homepage titled "Do Not Sell My Personal Information." The link would take users to a page where they can opt out of having their data sold or shared.

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