Sacramento Bee: Facebook, Google spending big bucks to fight California data privacy measure

March 23, 2018

Imagine a hyper-connected world where dating applications build 800-page profiles or your Internet behavior and taste in love interests, or track your one night stands based on the overnight location of your cell phone. 

Or, what if health insurance companies gathered information on exercise habits and how frequently your car enters fast-food drive thrus to determine your coverage rates? Would you care if social media companies logged all the questionable things you considered posting, but thought better of?

It's all possible and some of this is happening right now, warn the proponents of a ballot measure initiative to give California consumers more Internet privacy.

"This initiative, it will give them the power to take back some of that control and put some transparency and accountability back into a system that desperately needs it," said Mary Ross, president of Californians for Consumer Privacy.

The California Consumer Privacy Act would require big companies to disclose the type of information they gather, explain how it is shared or sold and give people the right to prevent businesses from spreading their personal data.

The initiative has months to qualify for the November ballot and will likely become one of the most expensive fights this year.

Google, Facebook, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have contributed $200,000 each to a campaign finance committee opposing the initiative since mid-February. The proponents, a trio of Bay Area business professionals, expect the Internet behemoths will eventually pour in over $100 million to try to stop the measure from passing.

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