Rick Arney (left), Alastair Mactaggart and Mary Stone Ross
worked on the ballot

CALIFORNIA BALLOT MEASURE would create a tough law on personal data privacy.

And the staging ground for one of the biggest regulatory fights facing the technology industry is far removed from Washington or Brussels, and it is all in the motion to get off the ground.

Political consultants have told the initiative's backers that they should prepare for the opposition campaign to spend about $100 million.

Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the opposition, declined to put a number on the campaign spending, but acknowledged that there's a lot at stake.

''It's California,'' he said. ''It's expensive.''

California's privacy initiative hasn't been certified yet by state officials for the November election, but it is expected to appear on the ballot.

The measure's  backers said they had submitted over 600,000 signatures, far eclipsing the 366,000  minimum requirement.

Mr. Mctaggart said he first became concerned about data privacy when he asked a Google engineer at a cocktail party if he should be worried about all the information companies were collecting about users.

The engineer's response surprised him : Mr. Mactaggart was right to be worried.

Mr. Mactaggart said he then reached out to Rick Arney, a finance industry executive who had worked in the the California State Senate as a legislative analyst 20 years ago.

Their children go to the same school, and Mr. Mactaggart knew that Mr. Arney was a supporter of  ballot measures  as a way for ordinary citizens to get something done outside of political system.

''One of the reasons why it's brought as a ballot initiative  is that there is consensus that Silicon Valley owns Sacramento,'' said  Chris Hoofnagle, an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and an adviser to the initiative.

''There's no prospect of any consequential consumer privacy legislation.''

But there was a small problem :

Neither Mr. Mactaggart nor Mr. Arney was a privacy expert or policy wonk. So they hired Mary Stone Ross, another neighborhood friend, who worked in the Central Intelligence Agency and had been legal counsel for the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee to oversee the effort.

The Honor of Serving of the latest Operational Research on Data and Privacy laws continues to Part 3. !WOW! thanks author and researcher Daisuke Wakabayashi.


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