SB 362: It's Time for Californians to Take Back Control of Their Data

A robust coalition of civil liberties, privacy and consumer protection organisations support SB 362 and are calling for its passage from the California Assembly

As SB 362 heads to the Assembly floor for its final vote before heading to Governor Newsom's desk, opposition from data brokers and advertisers has intensified along with misrepresentations about the bill and its ramifications. It's time to set the record straight and make a final push for legislation that represents a critical leap forward in the fight for accessible privacy rights.

SB 362: What it Does and Why it's Crucial

At its core, SB 362 aims to empower Californians to reclaim control over their personal information. It will improve the existing data broker registry by transforming it from a largely unusable ledger into a functional resource for consumers. People will be able to delete their data from companies—the vast majority of which they've never heard of—that profit by trading their information without transparent practices or accountability.

Hundreds of data brokers (if not more) currently operate in the dark, amassing and selling troves of personal data without our consent or knowledge. As just one example, an article from The Markup titled "From 'Heavy Purchasers' of Pregnancy Tests to the Depression-Prone: We Found 650,000 Ways Advertisers Label You," sheds light on how extraordinarily sensitive the categories used for targeted ads can be.

Where these companies are concerned,  Californians are practically unable to exercise the hard fought rights they gained from the California Consumer Privacy Act.  This is due to both the scale of the problem and shortcomings in the framework.

It is not realistic to expect people to submit individual requests on an ongoing basis to hundreds of companies they have no relationship with. Using a service to submit requests is an option for some, but limiting access to rights to those who can pay is inequitable. And even if someone is able to submit deletion requests to all companies regularly, there is little accountability.

SB 362 strengthens the transparency obligations for data brokers and institutes an uncomplicated, cost-free mechanism for mass data deletion requests. It also pays special attention to children's privacy and LGBT privacy issues. In doing so, SB 362 has garnered a broad coalition of support, and will make all Californians' right to privacy a more tangible reality.

How it Works: A Quick Overview

SB 362 doesn’t just pay homage to the idea of consumer privacy; it will create a set of protections that are accessible to all Californians.  SB 362

  • moves the existing data broker registry to the California Privacy Protection Agency for focused oversight
  • requires data brokers to disclose more details about what kind of data they collect and how they handle deletion requests
  • creates a user-friendly tool for mass data deletion (kind of like the "Do Not Call" list) that allows Californians to request  deletion of their data from multiple data brokers in one go
  • requires data brokers to check deletion requests every 45 days
  • adds accountability measures including mandatory audits

A Call to Action

A recent survey pointed out that 90% of consumers are concerned about data broker practices and 81% want their lawmakers to support SB 362. We urge lawmakers to stand up for the privacy of their constituents by voting yes on SB 362.

In a world awash in data, one of the most empowering things we can offer people is more control over their own information.