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Privacy Legislation Enacted in 2002

Unless otherwise noted, all laws go into effect January 1, 2003

Identity Theft

AB 1068 (Wright) - Consumer Related Investigations and Credit Reporting: Makes minor changes in the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act and Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act to facilitate implementation by businesses, without weakening the consumer protections added last year by the author's AB 655. Provisions include (1) requiring users of credit reports to take reasonable steps to verify an credit applicant's address if addresses on credit application and credit report vary, replacing former requirement for specific corrective actions [Civil Code 1785.20.3]; (2) requiring requesters of investigative reports to notify subject in advance and provide form with check box for subject to request copy [Civil Code 1786.16]; and (3) requiring investigative reports to contain notice that information in report may have derived from identity theft and accuracy is not guaranteed [Civil Code 1786.29]. Amends Social Security Number Confidentiality law to grant financial institutions a delay, until 7/1/03, of requirement that SSNs not be printed on statements and similar documents sent through the mail [Civil Code 1786.60]. [Chapter 1030 of 2002] This is an urgency measure, which takes effect immediately.

AB 1155 (Dutra) - DMV documents in ID theft: authorizes courts to impose fines of up to $25,000 on individuals convicted of felony conspiracy to commit ID theft. This bill also makes it a misdemeanor for any person, without authorization, to obtain (or assist another person in obtaining) a driver's license, identification card, vehicle registration certificate, or other official document issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. [Chapter 907 of 2002]

AB 1219 (Simitian) - Criminal identity theft: assists victims of criminal ID theft in rectifying criminal records wrongfully associated with their name, by allowing a court or a prosecuting attorney to move for an expedited judicial determination of factual innocence. This bill also allows the court to order the removal of incorrect references to the victim's name and personal information in court records and files. [Chapter 851 of 2002]

AB 1773 (Wayne) - Consolidation of ID theft cases: provides that the jurisdiction for a criminal action for ID theft offenses may be the county where the theft occurred or where the information was illegally used. If multiple ID theft offenses occur in multiple jurisdictions, any one of those jurisdictions is a proper jurisdiction for all of the offenses. Identity theft crimes can occur simultaneously in dozens of counties within the state. Allowing these crimes to be joined and prosecuted in a single county will greatly enhance the prosecution of these crimes. [Chapter 908 of 2002]

AB 2456 (Jackson) - Employment of offenders: provides further limitations on access, by specified prison and county jail inmates, to personal information. Also applies same prohibitions to offenders performing community service in lieu of a fine or custody. [Chapter 196 of 2002]

AB 2550 (Nation) - Electronic death registration system: requires the implementation of an electronic death registration system by January 1, 2005. This bill is intended to improve the timeliness and efficiency of California's death registration process, thereby expediting the State's ability to curtail the fraudulent use of both the birth and the death record through the timely application of the birth/death cross-matching. [Chapter 857 of 2002]

AB 2868 (Wright) - Consumer Related Investigations and Credit Reporting: Makes minor changes in Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act and Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act to facilitate implementation by businesses, without weakening the consumer protections added last year by the author's AB 655. Provisions include, (1) exempting certain resellers of credit report information from some identity theft blocking requirements; (2) requiring investigative consumer reporting agencies to keep copies of reports available for two years rather than three; and (3) adding costs and attorney fees to damages for violations of some technical requirements of the Consumer Investigative Reporting Agencies Act, but removing such violations from eligibility for punitive damages. [Chapter 1029 of 2002] This is an urgency measure, which takes effect immediately.

SB 1239 (Figueroa) - Expansion of identity theft victims' rights: requires consumer credit reporting agencies to provide a victim of ID theft the right to block fraudulent information and to receive a free copy of his or her credit report once a month for up to 12 consecutive months. [Chapter 860 of 2002] These provisions will take effect July 1, 2003.

SB 1254 (Alpert) - ID theft: expands definition of "personal information" in crime of ID theft to include financial account #s, taxpayer ID, etc. Makes possessing personal information of another with intent to defraud an offense publishable by up to $1,000 and one year in county jail. Also clarifies that Penal Code 530.8, requiring credit issuers to provide ID theft victims with documents related to fraudulent accounts, applies to cell phone companies. [Chapter 254 of 2002]

SB 1259 (Ackerman) - Payment card theft: provides that the knowing and willful possession or use, with the intent to defraud, of a device designed to scan or re-encode information from or to the magnetic strip of a payment card would be punishable as a misdemeanor. This bill also provides for destruction of those devices owned by the defendant and possessed or used in violation, and allows for the seizure of various other computer equipment used to store illegally obtained data. [Chapter 861 of 2002]

SB 1386 (Peace)/AB 700 (Simitian) of 2002 - Notice of security breach: This bill requires a business or a State agency that maintains computerized data that includes specified personal information to disclose any breach of the security of that data to any California resident whose unencrypted personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person. By giving consumers such notice, the bill gives them the opportunity to take proactive steps to ensure that they do not become victims of identity theft. [Chapter 915 of 2002]/[Chapter 1054 of 2002]

SB 1617 (Karnette) - Substitute credit cards: requires a credit card issuer that issues a substitute credit card to provide an activation process where consumers are required to contact the card issuer to activate the credit card before it can be used. [Chapter 862 of 2002]

SB 1730 (Bowen) - Credit reporting agencies and Social Security numbers: makes technical changes in last year's SB 168, including an exemption from security freezes for credit monitoring services and others who request credit reports to provide them to consumers, and an exemption, from the requirement to place a security alert or freeze on a credit report, for fraud prevention services. Also amends the SSN confidentiality law (1) to provide that employers administering employee health plans are subject to the same compliance timeline as health plans, and (2) to allow the mailing to consumers of documents containing SSNs when they are part of a process of (a) application or enrollment, (b) establishing or amending an account, or (c) confirmation of the accuracy of the SSN. [Chapter 786 of 2002]

SB 1765 (Bowen) - Warranty cards: requires product warranty cards to clearly state that the consumer is not required to return the card for the warranty to take effect. [Chapter 306 of 2002]

Control of Personal Information

AB 2191 (Migden) - Medical records confidentiality: adds pharmaceutical companies to the list of health care providers, health insurance carriers and contractors that are prohibited form disclosing a patient's medical information without first obtaining authorization. The bill also prohibits a pharmaceutical company from requiring a patient to authorize disclosure in order to receive medications. [Chapter 853 of 2002]

SB 247 (Speier) - Access to birth certificates: reduces the fraudulent use of birth certificates in identity theft by establishing authorization requirements for applicants to obtain certified copies of birth and death certificates. It further requires State and local registrars that issue copies of birth certificates to non-authorized applicants to print the words "informational, not a valid document to establish identity" on the copy issued. [Chapter 914 of 2002]

SB 1614 (Speier) - Public disclosure of birth/death indices: safeguards individual privacy and prevents fraud while allowing necessary public access to birth and death records. This bill exempts specified birth and death indices from disclosure under the California Public Records Act and requires the State Registrar to establish separate non-comprehensive indices, which do not contain Social Security numbers or mother's maiden name, for public release. Requesters of the indices would be required to provide proof of identity and sign a standard form certifying, under penalty of perjury, that they will comply with prescribed guidelines for use of the indices. [Chapter 712 of 2002]

Unwanted Calls, Mail, Email, Faxes

AB 1769 (Leslie) - Unsolicited text ads: prohibits unsolicited text ad messages on cell phones and pagers. [Chapter 699 of 2002]

AB 2944 (Kehoe and Bowen) - Unsolicited fax ads: repeals California's ineffective junk fax law, allowing California to enforce the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act's provisions banning unwanted ads sent over fax machines. [Chapter 700 of 2002]

SB 1560 (Figueroa) - State do-not-call list: amends last year's SB 771, creating the do-not-call list in the AG's Office. Allows small businesses to pay reduced rates for purchasing the list and sets start date for the list as April 1, 2003 (rather than the January). [Chapter 698 of 2002]

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