Per­sonal data item Prop. B could beef up pri­vacy rules

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - BAY AREA - By Tr­isha Thadani

San Fran­cisco res­i­dents’ per­sonal data could gain an ex­tra layer of pro­tec­tion un­der Propo­si­tion B, a bal­lot mea­sure that sup­port­ers say could give the city some of the tough­est data pro­tec­tion rules in the coun­try.

Prop. B, which was au­thored by Su­per­vi­sor Aaron Pe­skin and is on Tues­day’s bal­lot, would re­quire the city ad­min­is­tra­tor’s of­fice to craft an or­di­nance out­lin­ing how third-party com­pa­nies — such as Sales­force, Google or Scoot — must pro­tect con­sumer data if the city is­sues them a per­mit, grant or li­cense.

The or­di­nance must be based on 11 prin­ci­ples

out­lined in the mea­sure, which in­clude dis­cour­ag­ing the use of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that may iden­tify a per­son’s race or re­li­gion, and re­mov­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that could iden­tify an in­di­vid­ual when data are col­lected for re­search pur­poses. If the mea­sure passes, the city ad­min­is­tra­tor would have to present the rec­om­men­da­tions to the Board of Su­per­vi­sors in May. Pub­lic hear­ings would fol­low be­fore the board voted.

“It is really a state­ment of con­cern and prin­ci­ple by the elec­torate of San Fran­cisco that we be­lieve pri­vacy is a right and that ev­ery­one’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion should be sa­cred and pro­tected,” Pe­skin said

While sup­port­ers of the mea­sure say it could lead to a ma­jor shift in how pri­vate com­pa­nies han­dle con­sumer data — be­yond just in con­tracts with the city — the mea­sure has re­ceived no sup­port or op­po­si­tion from any ma­jor com­pa­nies.

Those against the mea­sure, such as the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia chap­ter of the So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Jour­nal­ists and the First Amend­ment Coali­tion, worry how a small sub­sec­tion of the mea­sure could un­der­mine the city’s Sun­shine Or­di­nance, which en­sures eas­ier ac­cess to pub­lic records and to strengthen the open meet­ing laws.

“It’s a dou­ble-edged sword,” said Aaron Field, co-chair of the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Jour­nal­ists’ Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Com­mit­tee. “It al­lows them to up­date the Sun­shine Or­di­nance in ways that could be good, but gives them power that en­ables them to do things with the or­di­nance that are bad for Sun­shine. With­out a good rea­son, we shouldn’t hand that power to of­fi­cials.”

Pe­skin said the op­po­si­tion is mis­read­ing the text, and that the mea­sure could ac­tu­ally strengthen the Sun­shine law by giv­ing the board power to make bu­reau­cratic changes to the 19-year-old or­di­nance. Prop. B states that any changes must be con­sis­tent with the “in­tent” of the 1999 law.

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