How California Is Building the Nation’s First Privacy Police

The agency will “be subject to a certain amount of political pressure,” said Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of the nonprofit Media Alliance, a two-area public interest group that also works with Auckland Privacy, a community group. “We don’t really know how the governor and the legislature will react if the action taken by the agency causes a pushback.”

Proponents of the agency say its independence is partially protected by its structure, with unpaid board members appointed by differently elected officials. Mr. Soltani described the initial funding as “the same as before in the game of poker” because voters “bought” at least $ 10 million, but said the legislature could give more.

The agency’s first task will be to turn the state’s privacy law, which is broader, into detailed rules for the industry. It operates a range of new areas of law, ranging from how data is used for targeted advertising, to how algorithms use personal information to make automated decisions. The law also requires businesses to adhere to the privacy preferences that online users set in their browsers; It is up to the agency to decide what that means in practice.

Ultimately, the agency will have the ability to enforce its rules. Businesses may also need to submit an audit of their cyber security risk to the agency. It has been asked for input on what should be included in the audit.

The agency has asked the public, nonprofits and businesses to submit comments to guide its initial rules. Privacy activists and industry groups have filed hundreds of pages of comments seeking to influence the agency’s decisions. Google, for example, asked regulators to write rules that “provide flexibility for businesses to respond to customer requests that prefer substance over form” and are consistent with privacy laws in other states.

Regarding Google, Jose Castaneda said in a statement that the company defended the national privacy law and that “as the California Privacy Protection Agency continues its work, we will remain constructively committed to ensuring we protect the privacy of our users.”

The board of the privacy protection agency announced in February that it would hold workshops this month for further comment from privacy experts and academics. In a meeting that month, Mr. Soltani said the group is likely to issue its first rules at the end of the year so that it can balance staff recruitment with complex questions.

“We’re building the car when we drive it,” he said.

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