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Consumer Reports applauds passage of California bills to address genetic privacy, broadband access

The California legislature has approved key legislation endorsed by Consumer Reports to help address digital rights issues related to genetic data privacy and broadband access. The bills now head to Governor Newsom, who will have until October 10 to consider the pieces of legislation.

The bill SB 41 establishes key privacy protections for the data collected by direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing companies like Ancestry.com and 23 & Me. The California Assembly voted 74-0 in favor of the bill, and the bill was concurred in the Senate, 38-0. The legislature also advanced a bill that would help protect against breaches of genetic data, AB 825. The bill, approved by the Senate 30-0, adds genetic data to the state’s data security and data breach notification frameworks, to help prevent and address breaches of this sensitive information.

“We applaud the legislature for providing Californians with meaningful control over their genetic data, which can reveal susceptibility to health conditions such as breast cancer and cystic fibrosis. California residents lack adequate privacy protections for their personal data collected by direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies. Without this law, these companies can use and share personal information without Californians’ consent,” said Maureen Mahoney, senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports. 

CR also endorsed SB 4 and AB 14, legislation that, together, will modernize and expand broadband access for all Californians, especially those living in underserved communities.

“As millions of Americans continue working, learning, and receiving medical care at home due to the ongoing pandemic, the necessity and value of a reliable, affordable internet connection has never been more critical. Consumers across the country need better access to more affordable internet connections and we applaud the legislators in California for taking action to help bridge the digital divide,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel at Consumer Reports.

CR urges Governor Newsom to sign these bills into law and continue its leadership on key digital rights issues.

Contact: Cyrus Rassool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org