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A California Legislator Battles Big Tech Over New Privacy Laws

Silicon Valley pushes back against legislation protecting personal data that could become a model for the nation.

California Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks

California Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks

Photographer: Jessica Chou for Bloomberg Businessweek

The push to confront the power of big technology companies recently reached an inflection point. Federal regulators have divided up antitrust responsibilities over Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, and both Democrats and Republicans are opening congressional inquiries into allegedly anticompetitive behavior in the industry.

A preview of a challenge to the tech industry, at least through legislative action, has been playing out in California. The state has often served as a testing ground for policy ideas stuck in Washingtonian gridlock. Last summer it passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which gives residents the right to know how their data is being collected and shared and allows them to deny companies the right to sell it. The law is seen as a potential model for other states or for national rules. Since its passage, lobbying groups for the tech giants have backed several bills to shape the law in their favor.