By Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer and Remi Alli
What’s up with California’s new internet privacy law?
California’s new internet privacy law is a gut reaction to a problem that has been going on since the 1990’s. Everyone remembers America Online Messenger, well all of us 30-40 something’s do anyway. The reason it was free was because they were advertising to you and data mining you then. The only thing that has changed in the modern era is that companies have gotten better at it and one of the big players has gotten caught.
What impact will this have?
We will go out on a limb here and answer that question: none.
This law is not going to stand for more than a few years. In Bibb v Navajo Freight Lines, Inc 359 U.S. 520 (1959), the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state of Illinois to have rules on special mud flaps, which the truckers would have to change each time they crossed the state line. The court used the logic that it was an undue burden to interstate commerce to have state specific guidelines for a national system. The California case is similar.
The state of California has adopted hyper-restrictive rules pertaining to internet privacy which places an undue burden on companies. Companies, some of which are specifically designed to data mine, are protected by the Commerce Clause. Thus, California’s law that makes it legal in one state but illegal in another when people are using the same service and sometimes even the same service provider is an undue burden on the companies to know where their viewers are from.
Initial problems with the law
To complicate this matter, people who use private networks or mask their IPs are problematic as companies have no way of knowing where these people are located. Which if penetrating legally available security systems can be required by state laws, then it become a bigger invasion of privacy than the initial problem of data mining.
Overall, this law is simply a gut reaction by legislators in an election year. The law will get chewed up in federal court and thrown back to the state to correct. It is going to cost business billions in legal fees and compliance fees until it is finally adjudicated ten years down the road.
The only thing that we can hope for is that some judge has the vision to set an injunction against what is clearly a violation of the rest of the countries business rights.