California state assemblymember, Bonnie Lowenthal, has introduced a bill entitled the “Right to Know Act 2013.” Were it to be enacted, Assembly Bill No. 1291, would significantly expand the consumer’s right to know what of his information a business has retained, and how the business is using it.
Altering current California law, which provides a right to know in cases where a customer has a “business relationship” with the business and the customer’s information has been shared for “direct marketing purposes,” the bill as currently proposed reads:
“This bill would instead require any business that retains a customer’s personal information, as defined, or discloses that information to a 3rd party, to provide at no charge, within 30 days of the customer’s specified request, a copy of that information to the customer as well as the names and contact information for all 3rd parties with which the business has shared the information during the previous 12 months, regardless of any business relationship with the customer.”
The right to know provided by the California bill is similar in many respects to the right to access information held by a business that is afforded under the EU’s Data Protection Directive to EU citizens.
The bill has received positive reviews from organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We’ll need to wait to see how Silicon Valley responds.
Because California often advances the conversation in the area of consumer protection and data privacy, it will be important to monitor how, and if, this proposal develops.