A Consumer Data Proposition Currently Circulating in California

Businesses Trade

Consumer data is the gold of the Digital Age. Businesses trade consumer data including products purchased, medical information, religious or political affiliations, etc. However, the selling and buying of consumer data pose dangers like compromised privacy.

California might be the first state to amend its laws in response to the growing discomfort around the selling and purchasing of consumer data by brands. Alastair Mactaggart, a San Francisco real estate developer, is determined to ignite a statewide debate on the privacy of consumer data. Mactaggart concluded that businesses mismanage data provided to them in confidence when he conversed with a tech engineer who confirmed to him that brands have a lot of information about individuals, sensitive information that should worry consumers.

The conversation between Mactaggart and his engineer friend occurred two years ago, but Mactaggart settled on initiating a ballot measure recently. The ballot measure would see consumers exercise more power over the use of their data as opposed to the current setup where companies decide what to do with consumer data. Presently, Mactaggart’s is soliciting for voter signatures in support of the initiative.

The first change that Mactaggart’s initiative seeks to implement will require Californian firms to be open regarding the collection, purchase, or sharing of the personal information of Californians. Coupled with full disclosure is an option that would allow consumers to decline from allowing firms to share their data; the companies would not be allowed to discriminate such consumers.

Also, the initiative seeks to confer new powers to prosecutors and average Californian citizens to file civil lawsuits against companies that go against their wishes regarding the use of data. In fact, consumers would not have to prove that they suffered harm for the violation to be awarded damages.

Allan Zaremberg, president of the Californian Chamber of Commerce, believes that the consequences of Mactaggart’s propositions are hard to grasp. He affirmed that few professionals could conceptualize the effects of the proposal. He raises a question regarding treatment of state agencies or schools that share data. According to him, the economy in California depends on data sharing.

Mactaggart is optimistic that his move will not hurt the economy of the Golden State. He believes that he understands the consequences of the privacy proposition. Nevertheless, he is aware that the data sharing industry is the wealthiest in the world.

Obviously, the business community will not take a “wait and see’’ approach; the community will put up a spirited fight against Mactaggart’s initiative.