Big Data, Big Money Collide with Privacy

by Dan Morain, The Sacramento Bee

Camelia.boban / Creative Commons

Camelia.boban / Creative Commons

… California Attorney General Kamala Harris reported three weeks ago that data breaches increased by 28 percent last year, representing 18.5 million bits of information about you and me. Social Security, bank, credit, debit card and personal information numbers and more all fell into miscreants’ dirty hands or, oops, were accidentally released for the world to see.

The Legislature this year finally prohibited brokers from selling individuals’ Social Security numbers. Who knew that was ever legal? But on several privacy measures, legislators bowed to tech lobbyists who argued the bills threatened to stifle innovation.

That might start to change in 2015. Or not.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins broke with long-standing jurisdictional tradition by creating a new committee, Privacy and Consumer Protection. Previously, privacy issues had been heard by one of at least three committees.

Atkins told me the committees with jurisdiction over privacy have a huge workload. She hopes to smooth the operations. She also hopes the committee will delve more deeply into questions of privacy.

“Don’t think I’m not frightened about my data being compromised,” Atkins said. She was among the 7.5 million Californians who had shopped at Target and whose financial information was breached last year. “Clearly, a lot of this (legislating) needs to be done at the federal level. But California has a special role to play.”

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