The Golden State vanguard: Tech companies respond to California’s clampdown

Here’s how Big Tech is responding to 2 major new laws in California.

January 21, 2020

The state of California entered a new era after the clock struck midnight at the close of 2019. 

Two major state laws took effect, and they could reshape Silicon Valley’s relationship with the lifeblood of the digital economy: real, live human beings.

Why the 2 measures matter

Three weeks into 2020, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of how companies will get by in the Brave New World of California. Here’s a rundown.

Up first: Assembly Bill 5

What it does: Companies that hire independent contractors are now required to classify most of them as employees, giving them access to stronger benefits.

Why it matters: Tech companies rely on these gig workers in a huge way. They form the backbone of entire business models — looking at you, Uber and DoorDash.

What’s happening now: The law is forcing the companies to rethink how they operate. 

  • Uber is testing a new feature that allows some California drivers to set their own fares, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday
  • Uber is also teaming up with other companies to raise money for a ballot initiative that would exempt them from the new rules

Next: The California Consumer Privacy Act

What it does: It gives consumers new rights around how their personal information is stored and shared.

Why it matters: Users can request the information that companies have collected about them — and the picture isn’t always pretty.

What’s happening now:

  • The Washington Post spot-checked Big Tech’s efforts to comply. The verdict? Spotty, at best
  • As for Uber: It’ll reveal a customer’s star rating, but not some customer service calls. The Post said the company “maintains other data undisclosed in CCPA requests,” too

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