In 2018, the California legislature hurried a new privacy statute through the legislature at breakneck speed. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was drafted and became law with extraordinary speed, as legislators wanted to preempt a data privacy ballot initiative.  In the past year, we’ve seen about a dozen states introduce similar measures, but (with the exception of Nevada) nothing meaningful has been signed into law. In the recent months, we’ve seen what may be a trend: ambitious privacy bills being turned into milquetoast task force authorizations. What’s going on?

Texas House Bill 4390 and Connecticut Senate Bill 1108 both started as overarching consumer protection legislation that closely resembled the CCPA. Texas HB 4390 went through revisions in both the Texas House and Senate, and was ultimately scaled back to  just create an advisory council to make recommendations for future data privacy legislation. The original version of Connecticut Senate Bill 1108 would have given consumers the same core privacy rights as California: the right to access the personal information the business has collected, delete any personal information collected from the consumer, and opt out of the sale of their personal information to third parties. The version which became a special act, however, established a task force to “study the interests consumers have in protecting their privacy and possible methods to achieve such protection in this state while not overly burdening the businesses in this state.”

While it would be easy to cast these actions alongside the many grand initiatives punted by way of reporting requirements, studies, advisory councils and task forces, maybe these states have learned from California. Since the CCPA passed, the legislature in California has spent significant time and resources attempting to address flaws and other concerns in the state’s groundbreaking data privacy law. Mere months after its passage, SB-1121 was passed to clean up technical and grammatical errors. Maybe, just maybe, we’re not witnessing a great dithering as a result of immense lobbying, but rather the deliberative approach necessary to achieve sensible results in one of the greatest issues of our time. A guy can dream, can’t he?