Whereas the presidential election remains to be within the stability, a number of poll initiatives with broad implications for a way we use expertise have handed.

Poll initiatives pose inquiries to voters and may—if handed—create, amend, or repeal present state legal guidelines. In whole, there have been 129 statewide poll initiatives throughout the nation on this presidential election, together with many associated to taxation and drug legalization.

Right here’s a round-up of a number of the initiatives on tech coverage with broader nationwide implications, and what they could imply for customers, privateness, and firms. We’ll replace it because the passage of extra such questions is confirmed over the following few days.

California: gig staff is not going to turn into workers 

Proposition 22 was simply authorised by California voters, which means that gig staff for apps like Lyft, Uber, and Doordash is not going to turn into workers of these firms. As a substitute they may stay unbiased contractors. This primarily overturns AB-5, handed final yr, which might have given gig staff the identical protections as different staff, like minimal wage, advantages, and compensation. The proposition additionally features a provision {that a} majority in California’s senate is required to overturn it, making any adjustments very troublesome. As Mary-Beth Moylan, a legislation professor at McGeorge Faculty of Regulation in Sacramento, lately famous, it’s extra widespread for poll initiatives to require a ¾ majority to move, reasonably than ⅞. 

A consortium of tech firms, together with Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, spent greater than $200 million in help of it—probably the most spent on any California proposition. Their enormous monetary benefit was amplified by their entry to in-app advertising and marketing, together with messaging that recommended “Sure on 22” would defend staff. In distinction, the opposition, led by labor unions, raised simply wanting $20 million. 

Given the spending imbalance, the outcomes have been considerably anticipated—and each the fundraising and the advertising and marketing might present a playbook for future fights between tech firms and customers. 

Additionally California: expanded privateness protections for customers 

The “Client Private Info Regulation and Company Initiative,” a.okay.a Proposition 24, additionally handed, including extra privateness protections for the state’s customers. The proposition requires creating a brand new enforcement company for the state’s privateness legal guidelines, increasing the sorts of info that buyers can decide out of sharing with advertisers, and shifting the state “don’t promote” provision to “don’t promote and share.” 

The measure was really a bit contentious amongst privateness rights teams, as we defined prematurely of the vote:

“Customers would nonetheless need to decide into the protections, reasonably than decide out, and firms could be allowed to cost extra for items and providers to make up for income they lose by not attending to promote knowledge. This might make it tougher for low-income and different marginalized teams to train their privateness rights.” 

Massachusetts: a “proper to restore” legislation for automobiles

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly mentioned sure to Query 1, “Amend the Proper to Restore Regulation,” which can give automotive house owners and unbiased mechanics better entry to wi-fi automobile knowledge. An identical legislation had handed in Massachusetts in 2013 that required diagnostic knowledge to be shared with unbiased mechanics, however it didn’t cowl wi-fi knowledge, which has turn into extra widespread within the seven years since. This legislation aimed to fill in that hole.  Its passage is a blow to the auto producers that lobbied for a no vote. They argued that this variation wouldn’t give them sufficient time to guard vehicles’ safety programs towards hacking. 

The legislation will apply to vehicles produced from 2022 on, and it’s possible that it gained’t simply have an effect on Massachusetts. Auto corporations, like different shopper product firms, are inclined to match the best regulatory requirements set by states.

Michigan: digital knowledge is protected against unreasonable search

Michigan’s Proposition 22, which requires a search warrant for digital and knowledge and communications, will move with vast margins. Quite a lot of states have already handed related laws defending digital knowledge, together with Missouri and New Hampshire. 

And right here’s one that did not move: 

California: courts will revert again to money bail over threat evaluation

California’s Proposition 25, which might have upheld SB10, a invoice that changed the money bail system with prison risk-assessment instruments, is not going to move by a greater than 10-percentage level margin. It revisits a extremely contentious and perennial debate in prison justice reform that has been enjoying out throughout the nation.

The query at hand is whether or not risk-assessment algorithms are a extra simply technique over money bail for deciding which defendants needs to be stored in jail earlier than trial. Money bail, which requires defendants to pay a sum of cash set by a decide with the intention to be launched, has been proven to discriminate towards low-income people. Threat-assessment algorithms, against this, use historic knowledge to foretell the probability a defendant would reoffend throughout their pretrial interval, and resolve whether or not to jail or launch them primarily based on that likelihood.

Whereas some argue that this gives a extra “goal” various to money bail, nonetheless, analysis has proven that such algorithms are additionally discriminatory—each towards low-income folks and towards Black people who find themselves disproportionately represented within the incarcerated inhabitants. It’s additionally arduous for a defendant or lawyer to contest their selections.

SB10 initially handed in 2018 and went into impact in 2019, making California the primary state to abolish money bail in favor of threat assessments. The choice generated heavy controversy, resulting in the introduction of Prop 25 on this yr’s poll. A No on Prop 25 now repeals the invoice, sending an fascinating sign to jurisdictions across the nation: money bail should be a discriminatory system, however changing it with a discriminatory algorithm shouldn’t be the reply.

Replace Nov 4, 2020, 2:50pm ET: California’s Prop 25 was added to the story. Extra updates will likely be added as different poll measures are confirmed.


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