SACRAMENTO — Two significant pieces of privacy legislation died in the Legislature this past week. And while privacy advocates may be gloomy, tech groups are surely enjoying the feeling of seeing their political power on the rise.
Tech lobbying helped kill SB 383, which would have extended prohibitions on customer-information collection to online retailers, and SB 1348, a measure to curb brokers’ data-selling practices. Advocates insist privacy issues aren’t going away and that California has a leading role to play in creating commercial restrictions. SB 1348′s author, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said Thursday that the state is one tragic and highly publicized data-mining incident away from seeing a serious public demand for industry changes.
But tech companies aren’t going away, either, and their high regard in the Legislature is unlikely to ebb as they fight new regulatory efforts. They and their allies in the business lobby helped defeat SB 383 without a single committee vote in the Assembly. The same coalition pressured key lawmakers to delay a vote on the bill in the Assembly Judiciary Committee and then have it sent to and killed in the much-less consumer-friendly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee.
After helping kill DeSaulnier’s bill, Arts Committee chairman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, said his committee was “very committed to finding solutions to this problem” and offered to convene a task force.
That’s about the best outcome tech advocates could hope for. Privacy groups, which don’t have the same level of funding or political juice in the Capitol, will have to reconsider their strategies.
The state Administrative Office of the Courts is not long for this world. It’s not that the judiciary’s much-maligned bureaucratic arm is being disbanded. It’s just being rebranded.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye announced Friday that she wants to dump the AOC name and simply refer to both administrative staff and the policymaking council she largely appoints as the Judicial Council.
“When I and others advocate for the public on behalf of the judicial branch, we often encounter confusion among those who think that the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts are two separate entities,” Cantil-Sakauye said. “They’re not. Quite simply, the administrative staff exists to support the Judicial Council and provide services to the courts, the public and sister branches of government.”
In addition to confusion, the chief justice no doubt frequently encounters frustration with the AOC, which has been criticized by lawmakers, judges and court employees for everything from branch budget troubles to the Court Case Management System debacle. So why not adopt a new moniker? Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, perhaps to appease increasingly fat-fearing consumers. Security contractor Blackwater changed its name to XE Services and later to Academi after attracting some unpleasant attention over its actions in Iraq.
Placer County Superior Court Judge Charles Wachob, who cochaired the AOC-critical Strategic Evaluation Committee, called the proposed name change “a necessary step to resolve a perception crisis.”
Michelle Castro, a lobbyist for the Service Employees International Union, which represents court workers, wasn’t so sure about the desired effect.
“Rebranding is an understandable urge, but the real challenge is to rebuild trust through changing the way the institution operates by putting the public first, and creating a culture of accountability,” she wrote in an email.
Whatever its new name, the AOC, er, Judicial Council, will not escape the audit approved by the Legislature earlier the year. That’s continuing as planned with results due to be made public this fall.