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Assemblyman Ed Chau. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Legislation Addresses Unlawfully Obtained Data Accessed During the Commission of a Crime

AB 1391 would not limit the constitutional rights of the public as whistleblowers

By Chris Micheli, April 13, 2021 11:11 am

On April 12, Assemblyman Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) amended his Assembly Bill AB 1391 to address the problem of unlawfully obtained data. The bill would add Section 1724 to the Civil Code. This bill previously dealt with “compromised data.”

AB 1391 would define the terms “authorized person” (someone who possesses or accesses data lawfully) and “data” (which references the definition from Penal Code Section 502). Section 502(b)(8) provides the following definition of “data:” “a representation of information, knowledge, facts, concepts, computer software, or computer programs or instructions. Data may be in any form, in storage media, or as stored in the memory of the computer or in transit or presented on a display device.”

The bill would make it unlawful for a person to sell data or sell access to data that the person has obtained or accessed while in the commissioning of a crime. In addition, the bill would make it unlawful for a person, who is not an “authorized person,” to purchase or use data from a source that the person knows or reasonably should know has obtained or accessed that data pursuant to the commission of a crime.

Finally, the bill specifies that this new section of the Civil Code would not limit the constitutional rights of the public as whistleblowers, as well as the press. Moreover, an individual could be liable under this section of law as well as any other applicable law.

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