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Alabama "Big Tech" Legislation

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Two New Alabama Bills Address Consumer Privacy and Censorship

While most of the state media has focused on an anti-censorship bill, one piece of state legislation that is getting little attention is House Bill 216, the “Alabama Consumer Privacy Act”. This bill is co-sponsored by 18 Republican House members, including Technology and Research committee member Craig Lipscomb.

This comprehensive privacy bill “would allow a consumer to request that a business disclose … the personal information the business collects about the consumer”.

In 2018, California caught the attention of the nation with its far-reaching California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) legislation which provides privacy protections for Californians. Since then, only two other states have passed similar legislation – Nevada and Maine. According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals.(IAPP), as of early February, twenty-four other states have introduced privacy legislation.

When the California CCPA privacy bill was first introduced, "Big Tech" companies expressed concern about the bill’s impact on their businesses as California has the world’s fifth largest economy. So far, there has been little impact on “Big Tech” company's financial success. Just over a year since the CCPA went into effect, “Big Tech” companies like Google and Facebook are showing record profits. In January, Facebook posted a 53% increase in quarterly profits, with over $11 billion in profit. Meanwhile, Alphabet (Google) just finished with a quarterly profit increase of over 40%, totaling over $15 billion.

In November of 2020, California voters approved Proposition 24, known as the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). The new law expands on the rights of Californians including rights on use and disclosure of sensitive personal information and processes to correct inaccurate data.

More and more states have been introducing consumer privacy legislation after efforts at the federal level have failed to progress. These bills vary greatly.

Alabama Consumer Privacy Legislation

The Alabama Consumer Privacy Act bill would "require a business to make certain disclosures regarding what information it collects" as well as share "the purposes for which the information is used." In addition to requiring businesses to disclose which categories of information they sell or disclose, it also requires businesses to disclose "the identities of third parties to which the information was sold or disclosed."

The bill allows consumers to opt out of the sale of their personal information and could provide some level of protection regarding the price and quality of goods or services they receive if they do opt out. The bill also allows a business to provide "financial incentives for collection of personal information."

Among the most notable requirements is that the bill would also allow "a consumer to request deletion of personal information."

The bill text with synopsis can be here found here.

Alabama Censorship Legislation

The other “Big Tech” bill that is getting more attention is House Bill 213, the “Anti-Censorship Act”. This bill is sponsored by eight Republicans who were also sponsors of the Alabama Consumer Privacy Act bill. This bill “would prohibit … a website on which comments or posts can be made, which receives any tax abatement, credit, or incentive from the state or a local government, from censoring speech on the website that is not an incitement to violence”.

The bill text with synopsis can be here found here.

Other states have also introduced “Big Tech” censorship legislation including Florida, Oklahoma, Kentucky and North Dakota.

Alabama Inaction

After years of company data breaches, all states enacted laws to address the issue. In March of 2018, Alabama was the last state in the country to pass such legislation. This was 15 years after the first data breach law was passed by California in 2003.

It is still early in the game regarding state level legislation for both privacy and censorship. Only time will tell if Alabama moves early on passing "Big Tech" legislation, or again finishes last.

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