×

Following Capitol Hearings, Facebook Drops Opposition to California Privacy Legislation

Facebook has decided to withdraw its opposition to a California ballot measure that is seeking to strengthen privacy protections for residents of the state, the company confirmed Wednesday. This commitment comes after two days of intense hearings over Facebook’s privacy practices on Capitol Hill.

If approved, the ballot measure would enact a new law called the  California Consumer Privacy Act, which aims to enforce more transparency over data stored by companies, and give consumers a way to opt out of companies selling their data. The measure, which is sponsored by local real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart, is on the November ballot in California.

It is being opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce.  A campaign against the bill has gotten financial support from Facebook, Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, with Facebook donating an initial $200,000. But on Wednesday afternoon, Facebook said that it was no longer going to back the opposition to the ballot measure.

“We took this step in order to focus our efforts on supporting reasonable privacy measures in California,” a company spokesperson told Variety. The move was first reported by San Francisco’s KPIX.

Popular on Variety

The supporters of the measure cheered the decision. “We’re gratified that Facebook has dropped its opposition to the California Consumer Privacy Act,” said Mactaggart. “We call on the remaining corporations who have contributed to the Super PAC opposing this common-sense measure to drop their opposition.”

The Committee to Protect California Jobs, the Chamber of Commerce-backed political action committee opposing the measure, said that it would continue with what it called “an aggressive campaign.” The proposed bill “is unworkable and requires the internet in California to operate differently – limiting our choices, hurting our businesses, and cutting our connection to the global economy,” the group said in a statement.

It also shared an email of Facebook’s head of state and local public policy Ann Blackwood that called the initiative flawed, while at the same time expressing support for a legislative solution for more privacy protections. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the email, but declined to comment further.

Mactaggart had told Variety in a previous interview that companies were hypocritical if they were publicly promising to strengthen privacy protections while quietly spending money to oppose bills like his. “There is a tidal wave coming, and they are just defending business as usual,” he said.

On Tuesday, Senators grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for 5 hours about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and related issues. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg received a similar treatment from House lawmakers during a second 5-hour hearing. During those appearances, Zuckerberg stopped short of supporting any specific legislation meant to strengthen privacy, repeatedly telling lawmakers that “details matter.”

Update: 7:38pm: This post was updated with a statement from the group opposing the ballot measure.

More Digital

  • Gary Levine and Jana Winograde Showtime

    Showtime, HBO Broaden Scope as Parent Companies Aim to Grow Their Audiences

    For years, the halo around premium cablers such as HBO and Showtime has been integral to their branding. Their parent companies in a past life — Time Warner and CBS, respectively — seemed to be content with the tens of millions of subscribers each had accumulated. But now, shepherded by new corporate owners — AT&T’s [...]

  • Josh Simon - Netflix

    Netflix Hires Nike Exec Josh Simon as VP of Consumer Products

    Netflix’s burgeoning consumer products group has a new boss: Josh Simon, who is leaving Nike to join the streaming giant. Simon, who’s also a Disney and Color Force alum, has been named VP of consumer products for Netflix. Based in L.A., he will start at the company the week of March 2 to oversee the [...]

  • Bob Chapek Disney CEO

    Why Wall Street Is Unhappy (for Now) With Disney's CEO Change

    We all knew the end was coming. Bob Iger had promised, time and again, that the end was coming. But the rather abrupt announcement Tuesday afternoon that he would relinquish his longtime role as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. — and that theme parks head Bob Chapek would succeed him at the top of [...]

  • FandangoNow - Amazon Fire TV

    Fandango's Video Streaming Service Lands on Amazon Fire TV

    FandangoNow, the on-demand transactional movie and TV service from NBCUniversal-owned Fandango, is now available on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition Smart TVs. The expansion to Amazon’s TV hardware platform comes as Fandango vies to get a bigger slice of the digital-entertainment pie — competing with Amazon Video, as well as Apple, Google [...]

  • The Spanish Princess Starz

    Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch Lifts Lid on Local Originals Drive for SVOD Starzplay

    Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch has outlined the local originals strategy for Starzplay, revealing that a slate of shows are being planned out of the Middle East and India as the business looks to complement its U.S. and English-language pipeline of content. Speaking at the Berlinale Series Market and Conference on Wednesday, the executive told Variety that the [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Adds Deals With Six Anime Creators in Japan

    Global streaming giant, Netflix is partnering with six different Japanese creators in order to expand its slate of originals anime content. Among the deals are ones with Clamp, the female manga collective that was responsible for the “Cardcaptor Sakura” franchise. Another is with Mari Yamazaki, whose “Thermae Romae” manga was turned into two hit live-action [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content