Advancing Data Privacy Policies in the States

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading advocacy organization for digital rights, including privacy, innovation and free speech. This past year, EFF worked in legislatures across the country to uphold these important ideals.

Consumer data privacy was a major focus for state legislators this past year. In California, EFF—along with our our coalition partners and other stakeholders—worked to protect the newly passed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Big technology companies backed a number of bills that would have significantly undermined this historic law. Many lawmakers proposed bills that would have opened up loopholes in the law and made it easier for businesses to skirt privacy. Thankfully, after a long fight, the legislature defended their state’s important privacy law.

While the CCPA a strong first step, it needs to be stronger. EFF and other privacy organizations in 2018 advanced two bills to strengthen the CCPA, which met significant opposition from technology industry trade association groups. We will continue to fight for a stronger privacy law.

We also had the privilege to support efforts from our coalition partners in legislatures across the country. This includes: passing a strong broadband privacy bill in Maine alongside the ACLU of Maine and Consumer Reports; working with the ACLU of Oregon to stop a horrible harmful pay-for-privacy bill; and joining a broad coalition of groups in Washington to stop an industry-friendly “privacy” bill that would have given companies free reign to ignore consumer requests.

Privacy was, of course, not the only focus of our legislative work. Cities across the country, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Cambridge, Mass. passed municipal bans on government use of face surveillance. California also passed a statewide law, which places a three-year moratorium on the use of face surveillance on cameras worn or carried by police officers.

Moratoria give legislators and citizens time to evaluate the dangers of face surveillance, and it prevents the threat of mass biometric surveillance from becoming the new normal. Those who care about privacy should seize this opportunity to advocate for the end of government use of this harmful technology in your own neighborhoods.

Hayley Tsukayama, Legislative Activist, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Hayley Tsukayama is a legislative activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), focusing on state legislation. Prior to joining EFF, she spent nearly eight years as a consumer technology reporter at The Washington Post.