Target: California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal
Goal: Praise Lowenthal for drafting and submitting the new “Right to Know” Act in California
A new bill has been drafted and put up for consideration by California lawmakers. Titled the “Right to Know” Act, this bill would bring much-needed transparency into the world of online data gathering and exchanging. The bill’s author, California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, firmly believes that, if we can’t stop large online organizations from gathering our personal data, we should at least be able to know what is being gathered and what it’s being used for.
With the Right to Know Act, Lowenthal is aiming to bring California’s outdated transparency laws into the digital age, ensuring that California’s citizens are able to access information they are entitled to. However, Lowenthal is also careful to stipulate that the Act is about transparency and access, not putting new restrictions on data sharing.
In its simplest form, the Right to Know Act would allow an individual citizen to submit a formal request to any company that gathered or shared their personal information and the company would then have to supply a list of what information was gathered and with which companies (if any) the information was shared with. However, in order to prevent abuse of the Act’s terms, a few safeguards were also included in the bill’s language:
- Companies can choose to not store unnecessary data. Or, if they must retain information, they could take protective measures to de-identify user data before retaining or disclosing it. Taking such measures would mean companies would not have to respond to data disclosure requests.
- If a company doesn’t want to respond to individual requests for data disclosures, it can provide you with a notice about what data will be disclosed and to whom—just before or after it happens.
- Companies only have to provide each user an accounting once every 12 months. This safeguard’s against any repetitive requests.
The Right to Know Act has already earned the support of online advocacy organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as several major civil liberties groups, domestic violence advocates, consumer protection groups, sexual health, and women’s rights groups within California. Help build support for Lowenthal and her Right to Know Act by signing this petition letter.
Dear Assemblywoman Lowenthal,
If passed, your Right to Know Act will bring much needed updates to California’s transparency laws and will ensure that the online rights of individual California citizens remain protected. While we can’t stop online companies and corporations from finding and sharing our personal data, at least now we have the means to know what data is being gathered and/or shared and for what purpose.
By signing this petition letter, I am officially stating that I join other major California advocacy groups in their support of the Right to Know Act. While it is important for big companies to know who they’re marketing their products and services to, it is equally, if not more so, important that the online privacy rights of individual citizens remain protected. Should the Right to Know Act be passed, I hope other states will follow suit and submit their own online transparency acts in the coming years.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Rock1997 via Wikimedia Commons