Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pay as You Go Insurance, RFID Skimming, Identity Theft Trials: Update on key privacy bills in California

I haven't found any "must post" privacy articles in the last day and a half so what I'm going to do instead is give you a quick update on the progress of 3 key privacy bills in California.

I posted info on Monday regarding AB 2800 and our (CFC) opposition to it. Well, we now have an official opposition letter describing our reasons why we must oppose this seemingly well intentioned piece of legislation.

First, AB 2800 (D - Jared Huffman) would allow insurers to develop "green" automobile insurance policies that create financial incentives for driving fewer miles on the road, thereby causing less pollution. CFC opposes this legislation on a number of grounds, including the likelihood that insurance companies would use GPS tracking devices to verify policyholders' mileage. These devices invade the privacy of motorists, since they capture data about each driver's daily travels.

Current insurance law, Proposition 103, already incorporates mileage as one of three mandatory factors for determining insurance rates. CFC believes the worthy goal of AB 2800 - reducing automobile emissions - should be achieved by more direct means, including financial incentives to purchase zero emission vehicles and disincentives in the form of polluter fees for purchasing vehicles that emit excessive amounts of greenhouse gases.

Click here to read CFC's Opposition Letter

The Department of Insurance to also take up Automobile "Spyware" Issue

The Department of Insurance held a workshop on "Pay-As-You-Drive" automobile insurance last month in preparation for a regulatory process that could lead to new automobile insurance rates designed to provide incentives for driving less. Consumer and privacy advocates raised numerous concerns, including objections to permitting insurance companies to use GPS tracking devices to verify mileage. We will keep you informed of any further developments.

SB 612 Signed by the Governor!

Privacy advocates won their second battle (the other being SB 1096's defeat) in as many weeks today with the signing of SB 612 (Simitian - Palo Alto), which gives victims of identity theft a better opportunity to obtain justice by allowing identity theft cases to be prosecuted in the county where the victim lives - which is not always the location of where the crime occurs. Current law allows for the prosecution of identity theft in the county where the theft occurred or the county in which information was illegally used, both of which may be hundreds of miles away from the victim's home.

SB 31 Wins Unanimous Assembly Appropriations Vote!

SB 31 (Simitian) overwhelmingly passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee today. The bill would make it illegal to "skim" (surreptitiously read and record) information from an RFID-enabled ID without consent, and by making it illegal to disclose RFID "system keys," (similar to a codebook). The bill now moves to the Assembly Floor.

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