AB 370 of 2013 stops online sharing

AB 370 is intended to help protect privacy of online users.  In 2003, California enacted the Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA), requiring operators of commercial Web sites to post online privacy policies and adhere to their requirements.  Among other things, CalOPPA requires a Web site operator’s privacy policy to identify the categories of personally identifiable information collected about individual consumers who use or visit the Web site, as well as to disclose the categories of third-party persons or entities with whom the operator may share that personally identifiable information.  In the ten years that have elapsed since CalOPPA was enacted, online commerce and Web technology have thrived, and with the emergence of these new business practices and new technologies, new privacy concerns have also risen.

Currently, all of the major Web browsers offer some sort of Do Not Track feature that enables individual consumers to signal to the Web sites they visit their choice not to be tracked.  However, whether or not an operator of a Web site, or a third-party collecting user information through another’s Web site, complies with a user’s preference not to be tracked is voluntary, and available data suggests that only a tiny fraction of Web site operators respect this preference.

AB 370, sponsored by the state Attorney General, would require that the operator of a commercial Web site or online service disclose how it responds to a Web browser’s “do not track” signal (i.e. whether it complies with a signal indicating a request to disable online tracking of an individual consumer) in its privacy policy.

The bill would also require an operator of a Web site or online service to disclose whether other parties on the Web site or online service are or may be conducting online tracking, and what, if any, options an individual consumer has regarding whether or not to permit this collection. 

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