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Tech, Innovation Bills Focus on Automation, Data Breaches

As the legislative session continues, lawmakers are scrutinizing several proposed bills on topics including “motor voter” registration, disclosure of security breaches and automation.

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Its Tuesday deadline is looming to approve a 2021-2022 Fiscal Year budget, but the state Legislature has also found the time to continue deliberating on several pieces of technology legislation of interest to IT companies.

Lawmakers are contemplating five proposed bills dealing with issues including automation, “motor voter” registration and data breaches, which have cleared appropriations committees and their respective houses of origin. Among the takeaways:

  • Assembly Bill 13, from Assembly Member Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, would enact the Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act of 2021 and signify the Legislature’s intention that “state agencies use an acquisition method that minimizes the risk of adverse and discriminatory impacts resulting from the design and application of automated decision systems.” It would define an “automated decision system” as “a computational process, including one derived from machine learning, statistical modeling, data analytics or artificial intelligence, that issues a score, classification, recommendation or other simplified output that is used to support or replace human decision-making and materially impacts” people. It would require the California Department of Technology to set public guidelines for identifying systems that would be subject to the bill. And it would require goods or services contracts for the use, license or development of “an automated decision system for a high-risk application” be founded on the proposal that brings the state “the most value-effective solution. On Wednesday, AB 13 was referred to the Senate committees on Governmental Organization, Judiciary, and Governance and Finance for further consideration.
  • AB 825, from Assembly Member Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, would hone the Information Practices Act of 1977, which requires agencies that own or license “computerized data” to disclose system security breaches to residents whose personal information was compromised. AB 825 would specify that personal information includes “an individual’s genetic tests, the genetic tests of family members of an individual, or the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of the individual” resulting from the analysis of a biological sample or other source. On Wednesday, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
  • State Senate Bill 583, from Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, would, according to its author via Senate floor analysis, “simultaneously streamline and secure” the state’s voter registration system. It wouldn’t replace the current California New Motor Voter Program, but would empower the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State (SOS) to create “a back-end automated voter registration system for registering voters” and require the entities to create it to increase “opportunities for voter registration” to those qualified. The bill would require DMV and SOS to create a schedule and way for DMV to electronically provide records to SOS; and require them to develop a process for DMV to use information from the statewide voter registration database to find out whether residents are already registered to vote. On Thursday, the bill was forwarded to the Assembly committees on Elections and Transportation.
  • SB 66, from Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, would establish the California Council on the Future of Transportation, tasked with reporting to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2024, on issues and concerns related to autonomous vehicles and making recommendations for related statewide policy changes and updates. The council also would be empowered to create subcommittees. Its membership would include representatives of a California public research institution, a local government, a local transit agency and potentially a technology company developing autonomous technology or an organization representing such companies. On Thursday, the bill was forwarded to Assembly committees on Transportation, and Communications and Conveyance.
  • SB 456, from Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, would build on an executive order from Gov. Jerry Brown that established the Forest Management Task Force, requiring the task force – including representatives of the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) – by Jan. 1, to “develop a comprehensive implementation strategy” to achieve the goals in its action plan. And the bill would drive “innovation and measuring progress in achieving these goals” – goals that would include “an applied research plan” and “a forest data hub to serve as (a) multi-institutional clearinghouse for supporting, integrating, evaluating and synthesizing reporting and monitoring efforts.” On Thursday, the bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.