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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

With impeachment hogging Congress' agenda, no national privacy law is likely to pre-empt California's stringent rules from going into effect next year — and activists in the state are already gearing up to put an even tougher initiative on the state's 2020 ballot.

Why it matters: California's rules often become de facto national standards. Home to Google and Facebook, this is where the tech industry's user-tracking, ad-targeting economy was born, but now it's also where efforts to tame the industry keep sprouting.

Driving the news: Real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart and his organization Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the drive for a state law in 2018, last week introduced a new privacy-focused ballot initiative for 2020 that would bolster the requirements of the state's current law.

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), passed in 2018 and set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, gives state residents the right to find out whatever personal information about them companies possess, to have them delete it, and to stop them from selling it.

The new ballot initiative goes further ...

  • establishing a data protection agency for the state to enforce new privacy laws and make new regulations.
  • creating a new class of "sensitive information" — data like social security numbers, precise location, and financial info — that firms could not sell without users opting in.
  • enacting a new right to correct inaccurate personal information stored by companies.

Flashback: The CCPA was written and passed hastily in 2018 as part of a deal with Mactaggart and his group to withdraw an earlier ballot initiative that had first spurred the push for a state-level privacy law in California.

  • Businesses have argued ever since that the law is full of loopholes and needs to be revised, but the California legislature defeated efforts to revamp the law.
  • The tech industry hoped that bipartisan efforts in Congress earlier this year would produce a less strict national privacy law that would take precedence over California's, but those efforts faltered.

Between the lines: Critics say big global companies that have already adapted to Europe's strict GDPR rules won't bat an eye at further privacy limits in California, while small firms and startups may find themselves hobbled.

  • CCPA only applies to companies with over $25 million in revenue, personal information on at least 50,000 people, or earning at least half their money by selling consumers' personal information.
  • The new initiative raises the bar to apply only to firms with information on 100,000 customers or households.

What's next: California initiatives need more than 600,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

  • If the new privacy initiative qualifies, it will get a yes or no decision from voters in 2020.
  • Successful initiatives are much harder to modify or amend than laws passed by the state legislature.

Go deeper: The future of privacy starts in California

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

5 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.