“At the root of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the company used data from 87 million Facebook users in an effort to deviously manipulate voters, was broken promises,” writes Mike Montgomery in the Mercury News. “Facebook was promised by the original collector that the data was to be used only for ‘academic research.’ It wasn’t. The collector promised not to sell or share the data with third parties. It didn’t. When confronted, the parties promised to destroy the data. They did no such thing.”
Promises are like that. They don’t always deliver the goods.
That’s why Californians must be skeptical of the promises from backers of a ballot measure that appears headed for the November ballot. They have given their proposal the apple-pie name of the “Consumer Right to Privacy Act,” and are promising that its enactment would improve the lives of Californians.
Let us do what Facebook didn’t, and seriously examine the validity of that promise.
The Honorable Jim Wood, Chair
Assembly Committee on Health
California State Capitol, Room 6005
Sacramento, CA 95814
Subject: AB 2212 California Retail Food Code – OPPOSE
Dear Chairperson Wood,
We write to express our concerns regarding AB 2212 (Ting) as it seeks to amend Section 113985 of the Health and Safety Code and add subscriptions-based meal delivery services to the existing definition of “retail;” a change that would include food processors that sell direct to consumers. We would note the language in AB 2212 is the exact same language approach used last year in AB 1461, which Governor Brown vetoed just six months ago.
As a technology advocacy organization, we seek to support California’s advancement as a state where innovative ideas blossom into new industries, companies and jobs while maintaining well-crafted rules and regulations to protect the public.
California’s food processing industry is evolving rapidly to keep pace with consumer demand and competition in the marketplace. Applying regulations as outlined in AB 1461 and mirrored in AB 2212 will inhibit this industry from modernizing and maintaining a competitive advantage with other agriculture states. AB 2212 will only encourage food processors to locate their facilities outside our state and ship to California customers from places like Nevada and Texas. Additionally, the language in AB 2212 will not only directly impact California-based food processors currently package foods for this intended purpose, it has the potential to impact all food processors and stifle their ability to expand their business model to include direct-to-consumer services.
AB 2212 is not necessary as food processors and manufacturers are already heavily regulated by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) as they often distribute food throughout the contiguous United States (including those that do so via subscription and provide recipes).
In contrast, the Food Handler Card program is a retail requirement enforced by local public health officers on the county level. It makes little sense, and would be impossible, for one food processor to be subject to the oversight of California’s 58 different local health
agencies, especially given that they are already required to comply with stricter food- safety and training standards enforced by CDPH and FDA.
Governor Brown recognized this in his veto message of AB 1461 last year where he encouraged the Legislature to work with the Department of Public Health and interested stakeholders to ensure food safety is protected and innovation is encouraged.
CALinnovates is fundamentally opposed to AB 2212 as it stifles innovation by adding excessive and unwarranted regulation to food processors that sell direct to consumers. We respectfully urge the Assembly Committee on Health to oppose AB 2212.
Assembly Member Mayes (Vice Chair)
Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry
Assembly Member Bigelow
Assembly Member Bonta
Assembly Member Burke
Assembly Member Carillo
Assembly Member Flora
Assembly Member Limon
Assembly Member McCarty
Assembly Member Nazarian
Assembly Member Rodriguez
Assembly Member Santiago
Assembly Member Thurmond
Assembly Member Waldron
“The Federal Communications Commission last week voted to kick-start 5G wireless networks in the United States by exempting them from some reviews that hinder installation,” writes CALinnovates’ Kish Rajan. “It’s about time.”
So far, the U.S. lags far behind the world leader — China — at getting 5G networks up and running. “There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G, and other nations are poised to win,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel acknowledged in January. It’s an embarrassing place for the country that invented the internet. But more than that, our hesitancy to streamline the process for installing vital infrastructure is costing us money, jobs and security.
Read the rest of Rajan’s stance on this issue here.
A statement from CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery:
“In today’s booming digital economy, fast and reliable internet connectivity is an absolute necessity, as nearly every industry job depends on it. Keeping up with the global sprint to 5G will mean the difference between U.S. innovation surging or falling behind. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr’s common-sense approach to removing regulatory roadblocks will promote 5G access for every American. It’s about time.”
Sixty-Two Percent of Americans Are Either Unsure or Believe Tech Companies and ISPs Are about the Same When It Comes to Protecting Privacy
San Francisco, CA, December 11, 2017 – After more than a decade of squabbling over so-called Net Neutrality rules, Americans want the issue settled once and for all to create certainty, according to a new survey by technology advocacy group CALinnovates.
Sixty-one percent of Americans, for example, report that creating regulatory certainty is important for the future of the internet and innovation.
But underlying that desire to settle the issue, according to the survey, is a growing sense that the technology companies driving the net neutrality debate aren’t different from their internet service provider opponents. The survey of 1,116 Americans found that:
Only slightly more than 1 in 3 Americans saw a difference between tech companies such as Google and Facebook and ISPs such as Verizon when it came to protecting their privacy. In fact, 62 percent reported that they are about the same or are not sure.
When it came to which companies they are more likely to trust, ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast (20%) were slightly ahead of tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter (18%). Overall, 50 percent of Americans said they trust or distrust them about equally.
And when it came to which of the sectors had the most to gain from net neutrality, it was again even. Sixteen percent of Americans thought tech companies because they want to maintain access as cheaply as possible, while the same amount said ISPs because they don’t want rules imposed on them.
“Americans intuitively understand that this never-ending game of policy pingpong over net neutrality must come to an end so consumers and the tech ecosystem can move on and focus fully on making magic,” said Mike Montgomery, Executive Director of CALinnovates. “With yet another FCC vote ahead, it’s time to bring this to a conclusion so we can get on with the business of innovating and delivering services consumers want.”
What the survey data reflects is the issues’ complexity and Americans’ struggle to understand its impact. Nearly the same number of Americans said they don’t understand the issue (45 percent) as said they do (48 percent).
But even if many don’t completely grasp net neutrality , they are looking for leadership from Washington to sort it out once and for all. And whatever happens, 82 percent of Americans want the FCC, which is slated to vote on net neutrality rules shortly, to be transparent about the proposed rule changes in advance of a vote.
The CALinnovates survey of 1,116 Americans was conducted from Nov. 27-Nov. 30 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.
CALinnovates is a non-partisan technology advocacy coalition of tech companies, founders, funders and nonprofits.
A statement from CALinnovates Executive Director Mike Montgomery:
“Hopefully this puts to rest the FCC’s recurring role in this decade-plus long tragicomedy and forces Congress to deliver a lasting solution that will provide innovators and consumers the clarity, certainty and protections they require to navigate the digital era in which we live.
“In releasing the white copy rules for public review three weeks before the Commission’s vote, Chairman Pai has removed a lingering opaqueness that has obscured the openness the public deserves. Such transparency is far overdue at the 83-year-old FCC.
“Americans overwhelmingly favor a permanent law over regulations that can be changed from administration to administration. The power – and responsibility – to make those rules sits unquestionably on the shoulders of Congress. Despite ongoing Congressional gridlock, legislators must answer today’s call to develop clear, bipartisan rules that guarantee bright line protections.”
Imagine setting out to be a wedding photographer or a dog trainer as little as 10 years ago. These kinds of jobs required enormous effort to get off the ground. Often people working as sole proprietors had to not only be great at their jobs, they had to be marketers and book keepers as well. It was enough of a barrier to keep plenty of people in unfulfilling, and often low paying, jobs.
Today that’s changing. Platforms like Thumbtack give these kinds of professionals a digital space where they can easily start their businesses. Thumbtack brings the customer leads to the pros and then facilitates payments handling both the marketing and the book keeping.
That means that people who might have previously been afraid to follow their dreams can now start their own businesses. People in dead-end jobs can find ways to forge their own path.
Postmates is having a similar effect in the restaurant industry.
A decade ago, starting a small bakery or restaurant was an almost insane endeavor. Margins at food businesses are notoriously thin and while the right location can get you plenty of foot traffic, it can also cost more than many budding entrepreneurs can afford.
With Postmates, a small, out of the way restaurant has as much of a chance to thrive as one in a better location. As long as a Postmates driver can get there, the restaurant can attract online diners who want food delivered to their homes.
We hear a lot about how automation is hurting jobs but we hear a lot less about how technology is helping people who are building businesses in the service industry. This is a regular topic of discussion between the tech industry and members of the California Legislative Technology and Innovation Caucus.
The truth is that the nature of work has been changing for many years—long before companies like Uber and Airbnb came along. While layoffs were once a big problem for people who worked in manufacturing, today more people are quitting than getting fired. While politicians might bluster about returning to a mid-century economy, workers on the ground are quickly adjusting to the new reality.
What are often called gig economy companies are making up the difference. I prefer to call this sector the personal enterprise economy because what it’s really doing is giving everyone, no matter what your skill, a new way to build a business.
On Thumbtack, for example, two-thirds of the professionals on the platform work full time. That means these aren’t people scrambling to make ends meet from a second job. They are entrepreneurs who have built their own businesses often doing what they love. The service is available in all but one county in the United States making it a truly democratizing force.
These new technology platforms are giving people new ways to work and creating new opportunities. To pretend they are actually the forces destroying jobs is misread the tea leaves.
But we can do more to help people in this new economy succeed.
As we move into the future of work, government and businesses need to think about how to help workers succeed in the new economy. Benefits need to be decoupled from corporations. Licensing should not be tied to a specific small municipality. Professionals should be able to easily ply their trade across country lines. And training and retraining need to become high priority.
We are just at the beginning of this conversation but it’s crucial that we continue talking—and listening to new perspectives. That’s why tomorrow, CALinnovates, along with TechNet, Senator Cannella and Assemblymember Gray, is hosting the inaugural Valley to Valley Forum at UC Merced.
U.S. consumers like to think we have the best of everything when it comes to the internet — didn’t we build it?
But we are lagging far behind other countries when it comes to building 5G networks. China just this month set a new industry record when it exceeded a throughput of 19 Gbps in 5G trials, on the way to a nationwide rollout of 5G by 2020.
5G-based technologies can have a vast impact on mobile connectivity in densely-populated areas and on the Internet of Things. Mobile data traffic worldwide is almost 800 million times higher than 15 years ago. By 2020, more than 50 billion devices and 212 billion sensors will be connected to network services.
Right now, China is on the cutting edge of 5G technology. Why aren’t we seeing the same in the U.S.? While several states are flirting with 5G networks, there’s no policy — and seemingly no interest — in getting one up and running nationwide.
And yet 5G can unlock enormous economic growth, help grow new businesses and jobs, improve transportation, save energy and greatly improve our infrastructure. According to an Accenture report, IoT improvements have the potential to create $160 billion in benefits and savings. Then there’s the economic boost of just building 5G networks. Accenture predicts that 5G could result in $275 billion in investments, creating 3 million new jobs nationally and growing GDP by $500 billion.
But nothing will happen unless we encourage the growth of 5G networks and eliminate outdated regulations. 5G requires 10 to 100 times more small cell antennas than a 4G network. Many municipalities are resisting them with long wait times for permits, unreasonable fees and conflicting regulations.
These small cells, about the size of a briefcase, typically are installed on utility poles. They have less range than a typical tower, but serve more users faster. They are easier and cheaper to install than large cell towers, and rely on density to provide fast data service. A college football stadium, for example, needs 40 to 60 of them to provide full coverage.
Virginia has made the most progress with new rules that make building a 5G network easier. Small cell antennas now are allowed statewide on lamp posts and utility poles. California, Florida, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana and Iowa are all looking at similar bills. Washington State is considering a bill that would streamline permitting and cap fees as a way to lay the groundwork for 5G networks there.
We also need national standards for using unlicensed spectrum to ensure a high quality of service and low interference. Broadband spectrum unlicensed by the FCC can be used by wireless operators as a relief valve for data traffic to speed up clogged pipes.
But for now, patchwork local regulations and the lack of a concerted, consistent national effort to build 5G networks mean U.S. consumers will be stuck with an outdated technology while we struggle to improve phone service and the backbone for smart cities, more efficient agriculture and even self-driving cars.
As the Legislature hurries to complete its final month of work for the year, the Capitol is humming with activity as legislators present and vote on hundreds of bills, advancing them to the governor’s desk. In the case of each bill, the Legislature and the Governor’s responsibility is the same: To carefully consider its policy merits and its long-term impacts on regular Californians, our economy and our state’s future.
This is particularly true when it comes to issues relating to new, innovative business models that had yet to even be conceived when our state’s existing legal and regulatory structures were put in place. As our economy has evolved, the Legislature has had to carefully consider the best ways to update our laws in a way that supports innovation, continues to protect Californians and maintains a coherent regulatory process.
We’ve seen these issues arise across many industries, from cyberbullying to ride sharing to home sharing. And although each industry is different, one thing has been clear across all of them: developing the right policy and regulatory framework for these new business models takes careful consideration and a thoughtful approach that engages a wide range of stakeholders, examines both intended and unintended consequences and ultimately yields a holistic approach that modernizes the law for the industry as it stands today and provides flexibility for the industry as it continues to evolve.
Now, as new business models emerge in the food, beverage and alcohol industries, it’s no surprise that the Assembly and Senate have considered a number of bills relating to consumer and public safety in these arenas over the course of this legislative session. For example:
AB 626 requires Californians who sell salads, hot meals and other prepared food made in their own home to report details about what and when they are preparing and selling this food.
AB 836 allows the California Department of Public Health to grant exceptions to certain food safety laws for specialty vending machines like juice distribution systems that dispense raw, cold-pressed juice directly to consumers.
AB 1461 creates new food handler card requirements for companies that offer subscription-based food packages and adds a new layer of local regulation, in addition to existing state and federal food safety regulations.
SB 254 creates new Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control requirements for online and app-based companies that deliver alcoholic beverages, above and beyond requirements already in place for traditional delivery companies.
Each of these bills deals with consumer safety in vastly different ways – whereas some loosen food safety laws for companies that deliver directly to customers, many layer on more, often duplicative regulations that don’t actually make customers any safer. Whereas some expand the role of state regulators in addressing consumer safety, others expand the role of local regulators, blurring the lines between regulatory agencies and who should actually be responsible for – or is even capable of – ensuring Californians’ safety in that particular industry.
Given the speed at which our economy is evolving and the ways in which new business models are changing how companies serve their customers, it’s no surprise that some of these very issues are on the agenda for the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health’s upcoming annual conference on “Protecting Environmental Health in a Rapidly Changing Society.” It’s a testament to the fact that even regulators themselves have more work to do to better understand the issues at hand and determine the right way to approach consumer safety in, well, a rapidly changing society. And it’s a reminder that our state is only at the beginning of this conversation – so it makes little sense for the Legislature to pre-empt those conversations, especially when the bills being debated deal with these issues in such a haphazard, sometimes contradictory way.
Across California, innovative companies are rethinking how to move within and between cities, how to deliver products and services more quickly and efficiently, and even how to shop for groceries and enjoy a home-cooked meal. This kind of outside-the-box thinking has defined California for decades and made us the epicenter of innovation, and it’s critically important that we approach these questions about consumer safety in a holistic way that protects Californians without squashing that spirit of innovation.
By taking a step back on some of these bills, the Legislature, Governor Brown and all stakeholders can foster the robust discussion California needs to ensure our health and safety laws truly protect consumers; encourage growth, investment and competition; and result in Californians having more choice and access to the benefits of new technology both now and in the future.