California bill would set security standards for protecting biometric data

August 24, 2016 - 

A California politician has resurrected a one-year-old bill to set a standard for businesses to protect private consumer data, including biometric and geolocation data, according to a report by Bloomberg Law.

In the last two weeks of the legislative session, assemblyman Mike Gatto (D) updated A.B. 83, in an effort to set new standards for businesses to practice reasonable security procedures and practices if they retain personal information.

Made public on August 20 just days before the session’s August 31 end date, the amendments to the bill — which was initially passed in 2015 — need to be approved by the Senate and the Assembly before they will be passed onto Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

“The next frontier is to use facial recognition to track you when you walk into a mall,” Gatto said. “People who store this information should have strong encryption and consumer protections.”

Under the bill, businesses that retain private consumer data would be required to list any internal and external risks that could jeopardize the information, as well as maintain reasonable safeguards for the storage and delivery of data.

In addition, the bill would broaden the definition of personal information in California law to include geolocation and biometric data, tax identification numbers, passport numbers, military identification numbers, and employment identification numbers.

Currently, California law dictates that an individual’s social security number, driver’s license number and medical information qualify as personal information.

The only businesses exempted from participating in maintaining these standards are healthcare providers and plans, financial institutions, and entities covered by Health Insurance Portability and Availability Act.

Although the bill does not specify the penalties of violation, Gatto said that it would be enforced by three methods: through the California Attorney General, through the civil suits under Business and Professions Code section 17200 that applies to unfair competition, and civil suits for negligence.

Gatto said that he is expecting the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider the bill this week based on the many significant amendments.

If it passes the committee, it will need approval on the Senate floor and a final vote from the Assembly to concur in the Senate amendments before it can reach the governor’s desk.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.