The Corporate Law Group


(With thanks and apologies to Antonio Prohias)

We wanted to write about the legitimate goals of prosecutors but that will have to wait a couple of weeks because the political critters were at it again, drafting new, inscrutable, unfinished, ill-thought, unfledged, rules, which will cause all kinds of harm, whether unintended or not.  Here we discuss the California Consumer Privacy Act.

The basic gist is that consumers have a right to know, and businesses have to identify, “the categories and specific pieces of personal information,” collected, and businesses must identify, “the purposes for which,” such information, “is used.”  The rest is just the usual horse-hockey of definitions, and explanations, exemptions, examples, exclusions, etcetera that all legislation includes. 

Will it make use freer?  More prosperous?  Happier?  Safer?  Of course not.  Consultants to online businesses will gin up a new industry with firms founded by political critters’ cronies, and try to set everyone’s hair on fire so that they can make some scratch.  Sacramento and Washington lawyers, lobbyists, and retired staffers will cash in.

And the expensive and useless regime will drift into obscurity.  Like red flags at a calm beach, Prop 65 warnings at gas stations, and New York’s crypto-currency regulations.

“But,” you say, “It’s great that we can force Googface to delete our history with them.”  We don’t disagree, but when government acts, private business don’t act.  When government standards are set, it causes a race to the bottom by all competitors.  “We don’t have to compete so why bother?  It’s easier to go along to get along.” 

We’d rather see an entrepreneur compete by setting up a business that tells you upfront they won’t sell your browsing history to Madison Avenue.  We won’t get that as long as the critters set the lowest possible standards.  And, if such a business was demanded by us, it would be built.  But as long as we trade free search for the fact we like kombucha, buy beard wax, and have a Pogo Pandora station, nothing will change. 

Want real privacy?  Do your searching with a product you paid for that promises not to sell your stuff.  OR that promises to just serve up untargeted ads like broadcast TV.  Now we’ll never get those models because the entire industry will fall in line with the limited ideas and limited wisdom of a couple of politicians.  The “experts” will continue to run our lives rather than us.