Evan Low and Scott Wiener speak onstage during Equality California's Special 20th Anniversary Los Angeles Equality Awards in 2019
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Equality California

California wants to be a data sanctuary for trans and abortion rights

Protocol Policy

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Policy! Today we look at California’s attempt to become a data sanctuary. Then in Washington, Republicans are primed to grill Meta on suppressing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story. And YouTube reveals more of its game plan for 2022 midterms.

California as a data sanctuary

California lawmakers passed a raft of new bills before ending their legislative session, including two that would make the state a “data sanctuary”: Senate Bill 107 — introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener —and Assembly Bill 2091, introduced by assemblymember Mia Bonta.

States such as Arkansas and Texas have recently adopted laws attempting to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. The Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade has also unleashed a flood of restrictive abortion laws across the country. Residents of those states now have to look to nearby states where abortion and trans rights are protected to gain access to care. But without greater protections, the data trail they leave behind could be used to prosecute them when they return home.

  • SB 107 would prohibit health care providers, law enforcement and courts in California from aiding other states’ investigations related to a minor receiving gender-affirming care in California. The bill is intended to create a refuge for trans kids (and their families) who cannot receive care in their home states because of hostile new laws and policies.
  • Bonta’s bill is similar, except it seeks to shield people who travel to California for abortion services from having their medical records shared with states and third parties looking to enforce out-of-state abortion bans.
  • Through these bills, California lawmakers are hoping to do for trans and reproductive rights what other sanctuary city and state policies have done for immigrant rights. “What is happening now is there are a series of red states — Texas, Alabama, others — that are trying to criminalize parents for allowing their trans children to receive gender-affirming care,” Wiener told Protocol. “This bill is a response to those vile laws.”

Certainly, there are plenty of other ways that anti-trans and abortion-restrictive states could go about getting the data they want, even if California’s law enforcement agencies, courts and health care providers refuse to cooperate with their investigations. Data brokers sell sensitive data readily. Platforms such as Facebook also often hold personal information about people. They can always share data voluntarily when asked to, though Facebook’s stated policies generally suggest it would only do so in response to a law enforcement request or in emergency situations.

That is a loophole that supporters of California’s data sanctuary plans hope to close in future iterations. “There is a lot of hard work to be done to figure out how to be a data sanctuary,” said Adam Schwartz, a senior lawyer at Electronic Frontier Foundation who recently wrote in support of more states becoming data sanctuaries for trans kids. “There are a million cracks in the dike, and people are just beginning to figure out how to fill them.”

The bills now await Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

A version of this story appeared on Protocol.com.

— Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu (email)

In Washington

House Republicans told Mark Zuckerberg to preserve FBI communications relating to that 2020 Hunter Biden story. The letter from 35 House Republicans came in response to Zuckerberg’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, where Zuckerberg said the FBI had instructed Facebook to be “on high alert” for “Russian propaganda” leading up to the 2020 election, which led to the company’s decision to limit distribution of the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden.

The U.S. government restricted the sale of Nvidia and AMD GPUs to Russia or China. The new policy requires the companies to receive an export license to sell select advanced GPUs to either country, as part of a U.S. government effort to slow their AI development.

Tech firms are struggling to fill their open slots for Washington liaisons,according to The Information. Open positions include policy leads for Andreessen Horowitz, Binance and Amazon.

YouTube revealed more details about its plan for handling the 2022 midterms. Product updates will direct users to curated feeds when they search for midterm candidates or look up topics such as “how to vote.”

Sponsored content from DataRobot

DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: DataRobot continues to attract clients in financial services who want to de-risk their AI investments and rapidly scale AI to almost every part of their operations, resulting in improved productivity and higher customer satisfaction.

Read more from DataRobot

In the states

Micron plans to invest $15 billion over 10 years in a memory chip manufacturing facility. The plant, located in Boise, Idaho, is expected to receive subsidies from the Chips Act.

Toyota is making an additional $2.5 billion investment in a U.S. EV battery plant. The funds will double the initial investment for the EV battery plant near Greensboro, North Carolina.

In the courts

Arm is suing Qualcomm over misuse of chip designs. By suing, Arm aims to force Qualcomm to destroy several chip designs and provide compensation for trademark infringement.

Lyft is facing 17 separate lawsuits over driver and passenger safety. The lawsuits — scattered across states including California, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio — allege that Lyft didn’t do enough to protect those on its platform from sexual assault, and then later failed to respond appropriately when alerted.

On Protocol

Axon continues to explore the idea of installing Taser-equipped drones in schools. Citing public concern, the company paused the school drone concept in June, shortly after nine members of its ethics board resigned. While active development is still on hold, Axon has engaged in discussions with law enforcement and lawmakers to gauge interest in the idea.

The Ethereum merge will switch the blockchain to proof of stake, slashing energy usage by 99% or more,according to Protocol Climate editor Brian Kahn. The tricky part is what happens to all of those existing investments in mining infrastructure. Chances are, miners will simply switch to something else — and if they don’t, well, that’s going to result in a whole lot of e-trash.

This week’s Braintrust asked tech leaders: What’s the most important action Congress could take on tech this session? Here are some highlights:

  • “One proposal would be to exempt STEM Ph.D. graduates of American universities from existing visa caps,” said Linda Moore, president and CEO of TechNet. “Another proposal would create a visa for the founders of startups. At least 25 countries, including Australia, Germany, Canada and the U.K., have startup visas in place.”
  • “Congress could clarify its intentions for $42 billion in broadband grants in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Sarah Oh Lam, a senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. “Lessons from broadband grants in the 2009 Recovery Act tell us that in five to 10 years we will not know how the $42 billion was spent, unless Congress explicitly tells the grantees to track the funds and publish results over time.”

Around the world

U.K. regulators are on track to further probe Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The Competition and Markets Authority gave Microsoft five business days to address its “concerns” over the deal, and that tight time window “all but ensures the so-called Phase 2 review will likely commence,” according to Protocol’s Nick Statt. Microsoft originally wanted the deal to close by June 2023, but stiff global regulatory scrutiny seems likely to delay those plans.

Apple, Meta, AMD and Qualcomm all attended an AI conference in Shanghai. Their attendance flies in the face of the Biden Administration’s attempts to further limit U.S. corporate participation in China’s AI sector.

India’s High Court in Delhi is attempting to force Telegram to disclose user information. Telegram unsuccessfully tried to argue that it should be allowed to adhere to its privacy policy, which says users’ personal identities will not be revealed unless they are suspected terrorists. The Telegram users India is trying to identify shared copyrighted study material for examinations.

South Korea’s semiconductor shipments fell 23% year-over-year for July. Shipments hadn’t declined at all in almost three years, according to Bloomberg.

In data

$65: That’s about how much money Netflix wants to charge advertisers to reach a thousand viewers, a higher figure than most other ad-based streaming services. That ad-based tier could be available as soon as November, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sponsored content from DataRobot

DataRobot's AI Cloud for Financial Services Unlocks the Art of the Possible: Banks need to secure a competitive advantage in an increasingly tight race to harness best-in-breed technology. Decision makers need to not just plan a future-ready strategy, but also recognize the value of AI that could boost not just their performance in-house but also their reputation among their global customers.

Read more from DataRobot

Regulators score on Crypto.com

Crypto.com is reportedly backing out of a sponsorship deal for Champions League soccer that would have been worth $495 million over five years. The company allegedly abandoned the deal due to concerns over regulatory scrutiny in the U.K., France and Italy — all key viewership markets for the European soccer tournament. It makes me wonder whether we’ll see the Lakers playing in a newly named stadium anytime soon.

Thanks for reading — see you Wednesday!

Recent Issues