A bill titled the “Right to Know Act of 2013” (AB 1291), which was first introduced by Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal this past February, continues to gather momentum in the California legislature.  The Right to Know Act would repeal and re-write Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.83 (often referred to as the California Shine the Light law) to contain a new requirement.

The new proposed Section 1798.83 would require any business (either online or offline) that retains the personal information of a California resident to provide, upon request by that resident, a copy of all retained personal information pertaining to that resident.  It also would require businesses to provide the categories of the resident’s personal information that were disclosed to third parties over the past twelve months as well as the names and contact information of these third parties.  Disclosures made to third party service providers for purposes of performing a specified service would not be included in this requirement.  Notably, the revisions to the statute would require businesses to produce personal information collected about a California resident in a variety of contexts, including data collected from that resident in the course of “purchasing, viewing, accessing, renting, leasing, or otherwise using real or personal property, or any interest therein, or obtaining a product or service from the business including advertising or any other content.”  Only California residents would be eligible to make a request; and businesses would be required to comply with such requests free of charge and within 30 days.

The Shine the Light Act, which was enacted in 2003, requires a disclosure to requesting residents of the personal information shared with third parties for their direct marketing purposes.  The broader disclosures proposed in the Right to Know Act are based on the premise that dramatic changes in technology and businesses’ practices since 2003 have led to information collection and disclosure practices that were not contemplated by the current law and about which consumers have a right to be informed. 

The Right to Know Act was re-referred to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 2, 2013 and has support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU of Northern California.