Skip to content

August 23, 2007

For More Information, Contact:
Paige Schoknecht (650) 688-6384


SANTA CRUZ –The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced today that State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is being honored for his work to protect the privacy rights of Californians.  Simitian will accept the “True Patriot” award at the chapter’s annual awards ceremony in Santa Cruz on Sunday.
“We are pleased to honor Senator Simitian with our ‘True Patriot’ award,” said John Thompson, Co-Chair of the ACLU of Santa Cruz County.  “Senator Simitian’s legislation is ahead of the curve and aims to solve potential problems before they happen.”

“I appreciate the recognition,” said Simitian.  “I particularly appreciate the recognition that our privacy rights are at risk, and deserve aggressive protection.”

Simitian’s privacy legislation includes the landmark Assembly Bill 700, which set the national model for a security breach notification law.  AB 700 requires businesses and government agencies to notify consumers in the event that their personal identifying information has been compromised.

Last year, the Governor signed Simitian’s Senate Bill 202, which protects consumers’ phone records from being fraudulently obtained by others.  SB 202 protects consumers in two ways.  First, it makes it illegal to obtain a consumer’s phone records by fraud or deceit, including the practice known as “pretexting” (i.e., pretending to be someone you’re not).  Second, the bill makes it illegal to buy or sell a consumer’s phone records without the consumer’s written consent, effectively shutting down the market for phone records. 

Building on his work to protect Californians’ privacy, earlier this year Simitian re-introduced SB 30, a bill that will make California the first state in the nation to require privacy and security protections for the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) or ‘smart chip’ technology in government-issued identification documents.  RFID devices are tiny chips with miniature antennae that can be embedded in documents for tracking and identification purposes.  Simitian’s SB 30 addresses concerns that, using a reader that emits a radio signal, anyone can capture the identifying information stored in the chips.  Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill by Simitian last year.

Simitian called the Governor’s veto a “missed opportunity to get out in front of the problem, and to put California in the forefront of privacy protection.” Simitian said he was particularly taken aback at the suggestion in the Governor’s veto message that his RFID legislation was “premature.”

Simitian has also authored legislation to protect and assist the victims of criminal identity theft, to protect consumers’ debit card information, and to require commercial websites to post privacy policies and then abide by them.

“With the federal government lagging behind on privacy issues, it’s important to have a representative in the State Capitol who is watching out for us,” said Mike Rotkin, Board Member of the ACLU of Santa Cruz County and member of the Santa Cruz City Council.  “Senator Simitian recognizes how important privacy is and is helping to protect it for every Californian.  We owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

“The privacy issues I’m working on cross ideological boundaries.  They’re not ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ and they’re certainly not partisan,” said Simitian.  “Privacy is a fundamental right, explicitly identified in the California Constitution.  I think we ought to honor and respect that special status.”

Previous winners of the “True Patriot” award include Bookshop Santa Cruz owner and Santa Cruz County Supervisor Neal Coonerty, honored for his work to protect First Amendment rights, and Dr. Craig Haney, Professor of Psychology at UC Santa Cruz, honored for his work on prisoners’ rights.

The awards ceremony will be held this Sunday, August 26, from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm in the La Feliz Room at the Seymour Center at Long Marine Laboratory, located at 100 Shaffer Road in Santa Cruz.  For more information about the event, visit

For more information about Simitian’s privacy legislation, visit