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Lobby in Silicon Valley blocks Consumer Access to Information Act

A coalition of technology companies and business lobbies in the Silicon Valley, Including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc., has succeeded in blocking and amendment to California state legislation that would have given Internet consumers the ability to access the information being collected about them online.


The Right to Know Act would have forced companies that collect information from consumers to provide within 30 days a copy of all the information gathered, "as well as the names and contact information for all third parties with which the business had shared the information during the previous 12 months."


In addition to this, the act would have allowed consumers "who sustains injury as a result of a violation" to seek recourse in the form of lawsuits.

The act was condemned in an open letter by technology companies and lobbies, who held that the act was "unworkable" rested on "mistaken assumptions about how the internet works" and imposed "costly and unrealistic mandates on California's technology sector with minimal benefits for state residents."


The main argument against the act was based on the implied personalization of access to information requests for each individual "customer.” which, due to the structure of information gathering, and that information about online activity gathering is usually gathered in relation to IP addresses, not individuals would be impossible. The would also allegedly "allow a lawsuit for any technical violation."


The defeat of the act highlights the growing political power of the Silicon Valley, and the increasing involvement of tech business in the politics that affect them. Silicon Valley spending on Lobbying has quickly expanded in the last six years from $18 million in the 2011-12 legislative session from $8 million in 2005-06.


Bill AB 1291, which contained the Right to Know Act, will now become a two-year bill, putting it on hold until next year.

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