Economy, Sci & Tech

Tech Titans Trying to Kill Calif. Privacy Initiative

Tech Titans Trying to Kill Calif. Privacy InitiativeTech Titans Trying to Kill Calif. Privacy Initiative

As data-sharing scandals continue to mount, a new proposal in California offers a potential solution: the California Consumer Privacy Act would require companies to disclose the types of information they collect, like data used to target ads, and allow the public to opt out of having their information sold. Now, some of technology's most prominent companies are pouring millions of dollars into an effort to kill the proposal.

In recent weeks, Amazon, Microsoft and Uber have all made substantial contributions to a group campaigning against the initiative, according to state disclosure records, the Verge reported.

The $195,000 contributions from Amazon and Microsoft, as well as $50,000 from Uber, are only the latest: Facebook, Google, AT&T and Verizon have each contributed $200,000 to block the measure, while other telecom and advertising groups have also poured money into the opposition group.

After Mark Zuckerberg was questioned on privacy during congressional hearings, Facebook said it would no longer support the group. Google did not back down, and the more recent contributions suggest other companies will continue fighting the measure.

The campaign to pass the California Consumer Privacy Act is almost wholly funded by Bay Area real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart. To date, Mactaggart has spent more than $3 million on the campaign.

He argues that, in the personal data industry, "there's so much money, and there are very powerful corporations that really have an immense interest in keeping business as usual going and having no regulations."

Mactaggart started working on the initiative about four years ago, after hearing a Google engineer say the public would be frightened to learn how much data the company holds on consumers.

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