Tech Giants Are Starting to Line Up for a David-Versus-Goliath Privacy Fight in California

Ballot initiative can drastically change how companies track consumers

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When California voters go to the polls in November, they might have a chance to drastically change how companies collect online data about consumers in the state.

Now that the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is in effect in Europe, U.S. privacy advocates are focusing efforts on the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, an initiative gaining steam in the state.

The act, which has three main objectives—forcing larger companies to disclose what types of information they collect about consumers, giving everyone the option to opt out of being tracked around the web and opening the door to let people sue companies if their data is ever wrongly collected or if information collected is stolen—requires 360,000 signatures to be verified before it goes on the ballot, and organizers have already submitted more than 600,000.

The initiative is being headed up by a core group of three people, none of whom come from the engineering...



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