California legislators tried and failed to push through a bill that would have restored the internet privacy rules killed by Congress and the FCC earlier this year.
The bill, introduced in June, didn’t manage to make it to the floor for a vote on Friday, which was the last day of the state’s 2017 legislative session. Instead, it remained stalled in committee and was ultimately shelved, placed in the “inactive file” without being sent out for a vote.
This outcome wasn’t entirely unexpected. While California seemed among the more likely places to pass legislation enshrining tougher internet privacy rules, opponents had several different chances to kill the bill, including within three different committees it had to pass through. One of those is ultimately where this year’s attempt to pass it died.
The bill would have required internet providers in California to get opt-in consent from their customers before showing or selling a customer’s information to another party. It also would have required that internet providers take “reasonable security procedures” to safeguard their customers’ information.
It’s all very similar to what the FCC initially passed in 2016. And it seemed to die for much the same reasons, at the behest of intense lobbying from internet providers — and some other internet companies you might not expect.
Companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T were of course against the legislation, because they want to be able to make money off of targeted ads based on their subscribers’ browsing history. But Google and Facebook were opposed to it too, because they said it was “vague and unclear to a degree that will have serious effects on consumers and businesses.” They were opposed to the FCC’s rules as well, in part because they were worried that it could eventually lead to checks on their own businesses.
California’s bill isn’t entirely done for. It could still be brought back into play again next year — though it will have to overcome the hurdles that it failed to jump through this year, even with the momentum of consumer outrage at its back.