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Legislature Enters Homestretch on IT Bills

A host of IT-related bills await California legislators as they enter the last few weeks of the current session. The bills deal with bots, consumer privacy, government IT modernization and diversity.

State lawmakers, frustrated by ongoing attempts to influence California voters with misleading and false information online, are hoping to crack down on malicious actors in the final weeks of their legislative session.

The focus on social media is among a handful of issues that are coming before fiscal committees this month, along with bills on consumer privacy, net neutrality, state government IT and cybersecurity. And California wants to set some ground rules.

SB 1001 would make it a crime for anyone to communicate through an automated account, or bot, if the user misleads a person about their artificial identity. The bill by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, would also make it illegal for a person to knowingly deceive another person in a bid to get them to buy a product or influence their vote in an election.

Another bill would ask the state attorney general to convene an advisory panel to tackle the spread of false information on social media websites.

SB 1424 by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, would require that a panel be created no later than April and include Internet-based social media providers, civil liberties advocates and First Amendment scholars. The group would have until Dec. 31, 2019, to come up with a strategic plan. Both measures are before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Here are other IT-related bills before lawmakers:

Data and Consumer Privacy

Lawmakers want the state Department of Justice to set up an online portal so Californians can easily look up the personal data privacy policies of social media websites and other online sites. AB 2182 would require websites to give the DoJ any updates and revisions to their policies. The bill by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

California lawmakers say consumer credit reporting agencies must patch vulnerable computer systems or face civil penalties if a customer’s personal information is breached. AB 1859 would require agencies update software within 30 days after a vulnerability is identified. The move comes after the Equifax breach last year, in which the records of 145 million people were exposed. The bill by Assemblyman Ed Chau, D–Monterey Park, is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

AB 1906 would require manufacturers of devices that connect to the Internet to equip them with security features by 2020. And any information collected by these devices — such as toasters, baby dolls and televisions — would be required to be protected from unauthorized access. The bill by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, is before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

State Government

Seeking to improve government efficiency and speed its adoption of technology, AB 2087 would require state agencies and the Legislature to set IT modernization goals. The measure by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, would require agencies to consult with the California Department of Technology (CDT) and to create a cost assessment plan to implement improvements. The bill is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Secretary of State's Office is supporting legislation that would require that office to adopt uniform statewide standards for storing permanent and non-permanent records on a cloud computing storage service. AB 2225 would require a cloud service that gives administrative users the controls to prevent stored records from being overwritten, deleted or altered to be considered a trusted system. The bill by Assemblywoman Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Lawmakers want to make it easier for voters to find the contact information for their elected officials. AB 2707 calls for a website that allows Californians to plug in their address to find information about their local, state and federal elected representatives. The bill by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, would require that the website be available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Japanese. Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed similar legislation in the past. The bill is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Under the guidance of the CDT director, SB 1396 would create a new office to ensure that state agencies comply with state and federal IT accessibility requirements. It would also provide a way for state employees and the public to register any complaints about website accessibility problems to the newly created Office of Accessible Technology. Beginning in 2020, the director would be required to post an online report that summarizes statewide policies, standards and procedures. The bill by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, is before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Californians could soon access all state government websites on their mobile phones. AB 2749 would require the chief information officer of each state entity to certify that its website is mobile-friendly by next July. If it’s not, the website would be shut down until it complies. The bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Up to five counties could ask for a state cybersecurity assessment of their election infrastructure under legislation before the Senate Appropriations Committee. AB 2748 creates a voluntary pilot program in an effort to show how the state can share its cybersecurity expertise. The Office of Information Security (OIS), the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the California Military Department would provide the confidential assessment results to counties and give them recommendations on how to mitigate any system vulnerabilities. The bill by Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, would allow counties to tap into the state’s expertise about cybersecurity, and all assessments would be confidential.

With Brown in his last year in office, lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would put the cybersecurity center he created into state statute. AB 2813 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, would codify the California Cybersecurity Integration Center and require it to coordinate with the California State Threat Assessment System and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Brown created the center with an executive order, and he has vetoed similar bills in the past. The measure is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

When California’s governor declares a state of emergency, it can be for a range of disasters — wildfire, flood, storm, riot, energy shortage or drought. What’s not on the list is cyberterrorism. SB 532 would change that. The bill by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would allow the governor to declare a cyberterrorism state of emergency or local emergency. The bill is before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.


The University of California, Los Angeles, would be tasked with studying the makeup of the boards of directors and employees of California’s high-tech companies — looking at racial, ethnic, gender and LGBT status. Under AB 2819, the university would publish a study every other year beginning in 2021 until 2031, and the study would be posted on its website. Bill author Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, says the measure would highlight pay gaps among ethnic groups; employment and outreach opportunities; board diversification; pipeline creation; upward mobility of diverse technical talent; and retention of that talent through company culture and development. The bill is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Setting aside a few definitions, lawmakers appear to have settled on a new approach to define blockchain technology. AB 2658 would define blockchain as “a mathematically secured, chronological, and decentralized ledger or database of transactions or other data.” The bill by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-City of Industry, also assigns the secretary of the Government Operations Agency to appoint a blockchain working group on or before July 1 of next year. The bill is before the Senate Appropriations Committee.