California ballot initiative, Consumer Right to Privacy Act of 2018, gathers momentum for a November vote, spurring some telecom and internet businesses to organize opposition.

By Michael H. Rubin, Roxana Mondragón-Motta, and Scott C. Jones

Businesses are preparing to oppose a California ballot measure that could impose new data privacy and security obligations, with the threat of significant civil liability for non-compliance. Signatures are being gathered to put the Consumer Right to Privacy Act of 2018 (the “CRPA Measure”) on the November 2018 California ballot. The CRPA Measure, introduced by two California citizens, claims to give California consumers an “effective way to control their personal information” by providing them with (1) a right to request certain information about what personal information covered businesses have collected and sold or disclosed within the last year and (2) the right to opt-out from having their personal information disclosed by a covered business. The initiative also provides multiple avenues for enforcement (private civil actions; attorney general or local prosecutor enforcement; and whistleblower actions).

Procedural Posture. In California, new laws can be adopted via the ballot initiative process, which gives California citizens a way to propose laws and constitutional amendments without going through the legislative process. At this early stage, whether the proponents of the CRPA Measure will secure the 365,880 signatures required to put the CRPA Measure on the November 2018 ballot remains unclear.  The deadline to collect signatures is June 18, 2018.

As of February 6, 2018, proponents of the CRPA Measure reported having collected at least 25% of the required signatures. If the CRPA Measure obtains the necessary number of valid signatures, the measure would appear on the November 2018 ballot. If a majority of Californians vote in favor of the CRPA Measure, the measure would become state law — having the same legal effect as if it had been passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor.

Additional information on California’s ballot initiative is available in this Latham & Watkins Client Alert.