Skip to content

September 5, 2002

For More Information, Contact:
Kristina Loquist at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Privacy, announced today that his four-bill package to protect consumer privacy has cleared the Legislature and is pending the Governor’s signature. The centerpiece of the bill package is AB 2297, the Online Privacy and Disclosure Act of 2002. If signed by the Governor, AB 2297 will be among the most substantial state-initiated online privacy legislation in the United States.

AB 2297 requires any entity that operates a website or online service for commercial purposes and collects personal and identifying information from California residents, must post a privacy policy identifying the categories of information they collect and with whom they share the information. The bill also requires that the website operator must comply with its posted policy. While the bill’s provisions were characterized as “modest” by many observers, it nonetheless was the subject of aggressive lobbying by industry opponents.

“AB 2297 provides meaningful privacy protections that will help foster the continued growth of the internet economy,” explains Simitian.  “Many consumers refuse to do business online because they have little protection against abuse,” continued Simitian.  “This bill provides protection by allowing individuals to rely on a company’s posted policy, and should provide consumers with greater comfort about doing business online.”

AB 700, a companion bill to AB 2297, addresses the problem that arises when there is a security breach that exposes personal information to hackers or others who are not authorized to have access to the information. AB 700 will require website operators to promptly notify Californians whose personal information has been compromised so they can take steps to protect themselves.

“Consumers can’t defend themselves if they don’t know they’re at risk,” said Simitian. “Keeping California consumers in the dark when their confidential information has been compromised puts them at personal and financial risk.”

In recognition of the need to hold the State itself accountable for its data collection and sharing practices, Simitian authored a third privacy bill. AB 2922 requires the State Office of Privacy Protection (OPP) to assemble an Inventory of Personally Identifiable Information. Each state department or agency must submit to OPP a list of the categories of information it collects, whether it is sold or otherwise released, and under what conditions. If AB 2922 is signed, the Inventory will be available to the public in March 2004 and will be updated annually.

Simitian said he was convinced the State should hold itself to a higher standard with respect to its own privacy practices. “What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander,” Simitian said. “If we’re going to hold the private sector to a higher standard, and I think we should, then we have to hold the State to a higher standard, as well. Right now, the public has no practical way of knowing who in State government is collecting what information about them, or what’s being done with it. This bill is an effort to hold the State itself accountable, and accountability starts with full disclosure.”

The final bill in Simitian’s package is AB 1219, which aims to help victims of identity theft. “Too often the folks who are the victims of identity theft find themselves caught up in a nightmare of courtroom bureaucracy when a criminal has falsely used their name,” Simitian noted. “Criminal complaints and court records end up carrying the names of the wrongly charged identity theft victim with lasting consequences. AB 1219 provides a clear and easy process for these folks to clear their names.”

“Any victim of identity theft has a horror story about the hoops they had to go through and the months, if not years, that it took to clear their name,” observed Simitian. “My hope and expectation is that AB 1219 will make it easier for these folks, who through no fault of their own, suddenly find themselves in the midst of a legal battle to clear their good name.”

“This is the most significant identity theft bill passed by the Legislature this year,” said David LaBahn of the California District Attorneys Association.  “AB 1219 helps innocent victims of identity fraud clear their names.”