Why the Tech World is Watching California’s Prop 24 in November

As if electing the leader of the free world next month isn’t big enough, there’s one issue on California’s ballot that could have a huge impact on privacy rules for the whole country.

“While most of America is focused on the presidential vote, Californians have another important decision to make at the polls this November. They’re being asked to approve what will likely become the internet privacy law for the United States,” writes Jason Kint in Vox.

“Proposition 24,” Kint continues, “also known as the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020 (CPRA), is supposed to expand a landmark California privacy law that passed two years ago; there’s a good chance Californians will approve this one, too. It’s framed as legislation that will better protect their privacy — in particular, sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, race, religion, and health information.”

Sign me up, California.

For most people, more protection of personal info sounds like a no-brainer. The law adds specific protections for young people (under 16) and gives consumers more control over how their personal data is used by third parties.

While publishers need to be prepared for potential compliance problems and continue their shift toward monetizing first-party data and the pivot toward paid content, overall Kint believes this will be a good thing for consumers and the news industry.

“For starters, the law is supposed to more clearly limit data collection and use for third parties — companies you don’t expect to get access to your data when you visit a news site — while allowing publishers to continue to use data they generate on their own sites,” he explains.

The biggest loser in this law is, no surprise, Facebook and Google, both of whom have built their duopoly on the backs of selling third-party data of its users through relentless tracking even when you’re not on their sites. The proposed legislation shutdowns the loopholes in the state’s previous 2018 legislation that was too easily exploited by big tech.

Kint explains: “… when a consumer exercises their opt-out rights and a publisher passes their choice along to all the companies with which it works (third parties), those companies must stop reusing that consumer’s data for any other purpose.”

It’s a big step in the right direction, although no law can assure 100% safety for our personal data. And by forcing publishers and advertisers to drop their short-termism when it comes to advertising, it will advance the sophistication and ultimately the effectiveness of solid publishing platform ad strategies.