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Legislature OKs Tech Bills Targeting Industry, Not State Government

California lawmakers this year stood firm on consumer protections, adopting bills to give Californians more protection online, shielding their personal data and bolstering privacy rights.

California lawmakers this year stood firm on consumer protections, adopting bills to give Californians more protection online, shielding their personal data and bolstering privacy rights.

In the final week of the session, lawmakers voted to impose the strongest net neutrality rules in the nation, overcoming an aggressive pushback from the telecommunications and cable industries and technology groups that argued California is out of its jurisdiction trying to regulate the Internet.

They also passed bills that would require manufacturers of toys and other devices that connect to the Internet to install security features that protect users’ privacy.

Those technology standards, along with the net neutrality rules, would impose a new set of regulations on consumers that, critics warn, will stifle innovation and lead to frivolous litigation.

“The state’s net neutrality law creates an unsustainable patchwork of regulations for the internet that — if they survive a legal challenge — will only slow down necessary telecommunications investment needed for manufacturers to thrive in the state,” Dorothy Rothrock, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, said in a statement to Techwire.

And the proposed regulations on toys, creates “a loophole for foreign imports that places consumers at risk and California manufacturers at a disadvantage,” she added.

But while lawmakers countered the Trump administration on internet regulation, they declined to advance tougher legislation on state government, nixing requirements that state agencies modernize their own IT operations and make sure their websites are accessible.

Here’s a look at some of the major technology bills that California lawmakers sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. He has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto them.

Consumer data and privacy

Lawmakers approved a bill intended to improve upon the state’s newly enacted privacy law, giving consumers the ability to learn what information companies are collecting about them and whether it’s being sold. SB 1121 by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would also require companies to delete consumers' personal information if they ask.

Frustrated that credit reporting agencies have been slow to upgrade IT vulnerabilities, lawmakers have passed legislation that sets timelines intended to get them to act before consumer information is breached. AB 1859 by Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, would require that agencies update software within 30 days after a vulnerability is identified.

Beginning in January 2020, manufactures of devices that connect to the Internet — such as toasters, dolls and televisions — must equip them with security features under a pair of bills. The measures, AB 1906 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, and SB 327 by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, come amid concerns of hackers stealing personal information from users.

Internet regulations

Calling for a free and open Internet, lawmakers approved legislation that would ban Internet service providers from blocking or slowing down websites, creating so-called “paid prioritization” or fast lanes for Internet access, and limiting a practice known as “zero rating,” where customers aren’t charged for using data on certain websites. SB 822 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is a response to the Trump administration’s decision this year to overturn net neutrality regulations set at the federal level.

Seeking to rein in false and misleading Internet communications, lawmakers passed legislation that would make it a crime for anyone to communicate online through an automated account, or bot, if the user misleads a person about their artificial identity. SB 1001 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.

Lawmakers are turning to an advisory panel to address the spread of false information on social media websites. SB 1424 by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, would require that Internet-based social media providers, civil liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars be on the panel, which would come up with recommendations by Dec. 31, 2019.

State government

AB 2225 would require the Secretary of State's Office to adopt statewide standards to store records in the cloud. The bill by Assemblywoman Monique Limon, D-Santa Barbara, would require controls that prevent stored records from being overwritten, deleted or altered to be considered a trusted system.

It could become easier for Californians to find the contact information of their local elected officials. AB 2707 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Francisco, would require the Secretary of State to request proposals for a website that displays the names and contact information for all local, state and federal elected officials. The idea is that users could type in their address on the website to find their local representative.

States websites that aren’t mobile-friendly would be shut down under legislation intended to make government information more accessible. AB 2749 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, would require the chief information officer of each state agency to certify that their website is mobile-friendly before Jan. 1, 2020.


AB 2813 by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, would codify into state law the California Cybersecurity Integration Center, which now operates under an executive order issued by Brown. The governor has vetoed similar legislation in the past, but lawmakers are eager to make the center permanent.

Cyberterrorism would be on the list of disasters that could trigger a state of emergency under SB 532. The bill by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would allow the governor to declare a cyberterrorism state of emergency or local emergency, as can be done now for wildfires, floods and storms.


The hiring of California’s high-tech companies could soon be scrutinized. AB 2819 by Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, would task the University of California at Los Angeles with studying the makeup of the boards of directors and employees of California’s high-tech companies — looking at racial, ethnic, gender and LGBT diversity. The bill calls for a study to be released every other year beginning in 2021 until 2031.

Lawmakers want more information about the emerging technology of blockchain and how it could be regulated under state law. AB 2658 charges the Secretary of the Government Operations Agency to appoint a blockchain working group on or before July 1 of next year. The bill by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-City of Industry, also defines blockchain as “a mathematically secured, chronological, and decentralized ledger or database of transactions or other data.”

Bills that failed:

Lawmakers blocked legislation that would have allowed the state to enter into Internet contracts only with companies that comply with California’s net neutrality law. SB 460 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, had been a companion bill to the successful net neutrality bill, but lawmakers severed the once-paired bills.

AB 2087 would have required state agencies and the Legislature to set IT modernization goals and create a plan to make improvements. The measure by Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, was an attempt to modernize what critics say is a state government behind the times.

Lawmakers killed legislation that would have created a new state office that ensured that state agencies comply with state and federal electronic IT accessibility requirements. SB 1396 by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, would have also required a way for state employees and the public to make complaints about any website accessibility problems.

AB 2748 would have created a pilot program for five counties to have the state conduct a cybersecurity assessment of their election infrastructure. The bill by Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, was intended to share the state’s cyberexpertise with counties.