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Tech, Innovation Bills Look at Emergency Response, Accessibility, Privacy

Proposed legislation this session would further refine state laws on privacy and personal information, on emergency response and on body-worn cameras. That is, if it passes.

The main entrance to the California Capitol building.
The legislative session is still young for state lawmakers, who are in the early stages of refining proposed laws that could have ramifications for public- and private-sector IT and innovation in years to come — if passed.

This year’s crop of legislation would take aim at everything from emergency response and body-worn cameras to website accessibility and personal information, all through the perspective of technology and innovation. Among the takeaways:

  • Assembly Bill 1276, from Assemblymember Tina McKinnor, D-Inglewood, would amend the state health and safety code on emergency response services. It would require the University of California at Davis Health to set up a program to collect 911 emergency call and dispatch data from first responders, to analyze it and improve “emergency response services systems.” UC Davis Health would have to adopt uniform statewide standards for the 911 call and dispatch data and stand up a data portal to catalog the data, aggregated statewide and excluding any personally identifiable information. The California Emergency Medical Services Authority, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and the departments of Health Care Access and Information, and Justice would be tasked with collaborating with UC Davis Health. Terms of the bill would require “any applicable entity ... whether state or local, public or private” that has 911 call and dispatch data available to it to send that data to UC Davis Health. Implementation would have to meet applicable state and federal privacy laws, and the Regents of the University of California would have a measure of approval for UC Davis Health’s participation. The bill would, if passed, create a “state-mandated local program” and, as such, reimbursement for costs mandated by the state, including to local agencies and school districts, could be required. The bill was referred March 2 to the Assembly committees on Health and on Privacy and Consumer Protection; hearings have not yet been set.
  • AB 950, from Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, D-San Diego, would amend state civil code on website accessibility for the disabled. It would specify statutory damages based on websites’ inaccessibility can only be “recovered against an entity” if the site “fails to provide equally effective communication or facilitate full and equal enjoyment of the entity’s goods and services to the public.” A plaintiff would have to prove they “personally encountered a barrier that interfered with their ability to access all or part of the entity’s Internet website” and made them “experience a difference in their access” compared to non-disabled users. The bill would specify a site is “presumed to provide equally effective communication for the purpose of an award of minimum statutory damages” if it meets accessibility standards set by the “Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessibility Guidelines Working Group.” The bill would require the California Commission on Disability Access to review the standards to ascertain whether they’re the most up-to-date standards for website communication — and to notify lawmakers if they should be revised. The bill was referred March 2 to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary; a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
  • AB 947, from Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, would update 2018’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which limited businesses that collect customers’ sensitive personal information to only using that information to perform the services or provide the goods expected as part of the interaction. The San Fernando Valley Democrat’s bill would expand the CPPA’s definition of sensitive personal information to include “personal information that reveals a consumer’s citizenship or immigration status.” On Tuesday, it was re-referred to the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, which Gabriel chairs. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.
  • State Senate Bill 595, from state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, would amend state code on unemployment insurance as it pertains to health insurance. Specifically, it would prohibit California’s American Health Benefit Exchange — which is already prohibited from disclosing residents’ personal information obtained from the state Economic Development Department — from disclosing that information to a “certified insurance agent or a certified employment counselor.” The bill has been referred to the state Senate Committee on Health and a hearing is set for March 22.
  • AB 1034, from Assemblymember Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, would update existing law on what happens to data recorded by a peace officer’s body-worn camera. Existing law requires law enforcement “consider best practices” on downloading and storing that data when they set policy and procedure around a body camera system. This bill would prohibit law enforcement from “installing, activating, or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera or data collected by an officer camera,” and would “authorize” a person to seek action for “equitable or declaratory relief” against an agency or officer who violates the law. The bill would sunset Jan. 1, 2034. It was re-referred Monday to the state Assembly Committee on Public Safety; a hearing is set for March 28.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.