AB 886 Would Protect The Privacy Of Uber Passengers
Update 1/11/2015: Assembly Member Chau has withdrawn AB 886 from consideration as he and Consumer Federation of California explore promising alternative strategies to protect Uber passengers’ privacy. Watch for new developments on consumercal.org
An amended Assembly Bill 886 (Chau, D-Arcadia), sponsored by Consumer Federation of California (CFC) to limit the sensitive personal information that customers of so-called transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber can share with strangers, returns to the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee for a new vote January 11 after suffering a narrow defeat there last spring.
As amended, AB 886 would prohibit TNCs from sharing personal data with third parties unless the consumer voluntarily opts-in. Data that Uber collects from its customers includes name, address, bank account information, travel logs, and personal address books and online search records that it pulls from passenger smartphones. It’s becoming alarmingly common for corporations to “mine” such data and to share – or sell – their customers’ personally identifiable information to other businesses.
“This detailed information provides new and intrusive opportunities for corporate surveillance and for unwelcome marketing purposes,” CFC noted in a letter to new committee chair Mike Gatto (D-Glendale).
“This bill would simply require TNCs to provide a clear opportunity for their customers to opt-in to data sharing. Under the bill, consumers may still choose to participate in the data sharing with a clear acknowledgment, and those who do not consent are not forced to give up their privacy just by using the service,” the letter states.
The bill contains narrow exemptions that permit a TNC to share only the data that is required to complete a consumer-initiated transaction, such as providing a bank with the customer information it needs to process a credit card payment, or data needed by a court or regulatory agency to investigate the TNC.
“AB 886 also modernizes the definition of ‘personally identifiable information’ to include geolocation information, personal contacts, and IP addresses, among other [data],” CFC’s letter says.
The committee narrowly rejected an earlier version of AB 886 last year. Democrat Autumn Burke voted No, joining five Republicans: Katcho Achadjian, Brian Dahle, David Hadley, Brian Jones and Jim Patterson. All remain on the committee except Jones, who’s been replaced by Republican Jay Obernolte.
Voting for the bill were Democrats Anthony Rendon, Roger Hernández, Miguel Santiago and Das Williams; all remain on the committee except Rendon, who’s about to become Speaker of the Assembly and was replaced by Gatto.
AB 886’s supporters could have won, but Democrats Susan Bonilla, Susan Talamantes Eggman, Cristina Garcia, Bill Quirk and Philip Ting simply failed to vote – the same as voting No.