If You Want Privacy on Your Internet Searches and Where You Shop and Travel, Wait Two More Years

They swarmed.Like angry wasps attacking a child who sat on the wrong campfire log (that happened to me when I was 10), lobbyists in Austin swarmed and stung so hard that when they were done the guts of a proposed consumer privacy protection bill were gone.The line of foes was long: Insurance companies. Retailers. Landlords. AT&T. Chambers of commerce. Coalitions of online advertising groups.They want details on you, where you shop, what you buy, what you search for on the web and so much more.They're not giving up their freedom to do what they want with your data without a fight. A big fight."Honestly, I've never seen anything like this opposition," said Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, sponsor of House Bill 4390. "Usually my bills get killed in the back. This time, it was, 'We're going to do it in front of you. We're going to make you watch.'"The bill would have protected your web data from being collected and sold without your permission. It blocked data surveillance by the social media giants and Internet companies. Or -- it would have done that if the stinging wasps hadn't come along.How it died and who killed it is relevant because web privacy is one of the great issues of our time -- now and into the future.Actually, the bill didn't die. It passed by a 138-3 vote in the House and drew only one negative vote in the Senate. It now awaits Gov. Abbott's signature to become law.But there's nothing to celebrate. This is no victory. Wait until you hear what happened to it.Lobbyists pouncedAt first, all was quiet on the battle front. The lobbyists were not "super-engaged," said Capriglione, known in the statehouse as Gio."There's not much talk. Everyone thinks the bill is going to die."When Gio presented the bill to a House committee, he tried a shock tactic. He told several of his colleagues bits of personal information about themselves or their family members that he picked up searching the web."Your husband went to this high school, and his birthday is..." Gio remembers telling one lawmaker. To another lawmaker, he commented on her trip to El Paso."They were absolutely stunned that anyone knows this information, let alone saying it in this committee," Gio recalls.  Continue reading...

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