Expansion of California privacy law qualifies for ballot

By Kathleen Ronayne
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), Jun 25 – California voters will decide a ballot measure this November that would give them more power over how companies use their data, an extension of a landmark privacy law passed in 2018.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Wednesday a measure to amend the law will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Thursday is the deadline for initiatives to qualify; they need hundreds of thousands of verified voter signatures to get on the ballot. Others ballot measures this fall would roll back a law that limits taxes on businesses and exempt ride-share services from a new state employment law.

The consumer privacy measure would, among other things: Allow consumers to prevent businesses from sharing their personal information; limit businesses’ use of geolocation, race, health or other information; and create a state agency to enforce and implement the law. The agency would cost an estimated $10 million per year.

It builds on the California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect Jan. 1. Lawmakers passed it in 2018 under pressure from Alastair Mactaggart, a wealthy California developer, who spent millions of his own money to qualify an even more sweeping measure for the ballot. He withdrew his measure when the law passed under a compromise with legislators.

Under the existing law, consumers can request companies, including Internet giants Google and Facebook, tell them what personal data they have collected and what third parties the companies shared it with. Consumers can ask companies to delete it or stop selling it. Companies can’t sell data from children under the age of 16 without consent.

Mactaggart’s new initiative would triple the penalties for companies that violate the rules for children under 16.

“California has led the nation in securing fundamental privacy rights,” Mactaggart said in a statement. “During these times of unprecedented uncertainty, we need to ensure that the laws keep pace with the ever-changing ways corporations and other entities are using our data.”

“California businesses need regulatory certainty – not a moving target – especially during these unprecedented times when many are in survival mode,“ the group said in a statement.

The Internet Association, which represents companies including Amazon, Google, and Facebook, did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Local libraries’ stand against global pandemic

By Marc Vicente
May 26, 2020

With shelter-in-place orders being extended, it remains uncertain when organizations will resume normal operations, and businesses and public facilities are finding ways to adapt.

Libraries have undergone perhaps the most drastic of changes during this pandemic season. They house a wide variety of books that circulate through more than one person through checkout. However, because the virus spreads through contact with people and other surfaces, checking out new physical books has been postponed ever since quarantine protocols were initiated to reduce the spread of the virus. In addition, many libraries in the Bay Area have extended the deadline of checked out media so that patrons can return them when the pandemic dies down. Multiple events involving the libraries have also been postponed to maintain the safety of library patrons.

Sometimes, libraries can serve as places for refuge for when disasters occur. Fremont Main Library Division Director Brian Edwards says,“A couple years ago, when we had fires, we had clean air circulating through the library so we had people coming inside for space to breathe and a cool place because they didn’t have that at home. With this virus, we have to close our doors, which is hard for a lot of people and their mental health. This pandemic is difficult for a lot of people at home, with a lot of necessary services closed down. Some people have no access to internet, music or streaming services, so they are waiting for us to reopen soon.”

While a large majority of their physical books remain on shelves, libraries continue to help their communities through their websites, by providing registration for virtual library cards, or eCards that allow free access to their online archive. Some libraries, like the Hayward Public Library, also offered Chromebooks to some people via checkout before they closed down. Hayward Public Library Director of Library Services Jayanti Addleman states that “the transition to digital services was not as difficult as one would expect, since [libraries] were equipped with online services long before the spread of COVID-19.”

In addition to eCards, local libraries promote other services, as well as events hosted by their librarians. Tutoring services for students, moral support lines for various demographics, and Census assistance are some of the services offered by multiple Bay Area libraries. Some offer their own unique events, such as Hayward Public Library’s virtual storytimes for children, and Union City Library’s Twitch streaming service to play games with their patrons.

On top of adapting their current services, libraries currently cooperate with the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the State of California to continue creating innovative ways to reconfigure their arrangements to decrease the spread of COVID-19 among patrons when they reopen. Since libraries can only distribute their eBooks a finite number of times while under digital rights laws, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Edwards says that libraries have to constantly update, organize and expand their online databases to maintain and provide more content for patrons to enjoy, especially since the use of eLibraries has skyrocketed in the past two months. Seating and computer layouts among multiple libraries will be rearranged to observe social distancing procedures, with Addleman stating that the Hayward Public Library will start adding plexiglass sneeze guards to their computer stations. Additionally, plans to initiate contactless pickup of books are said to be started around June. However, before libraries open up again to implement such changes, the CDC and IMLS still have yet to discover the best possible courses of action to ensure that everyone can remain safe from the ever-spreading COVID-19 virus.

Hayward Public Library

Digital Lending
Ecards
Virtual classes/meetups
Tutoring
Census Information
Virtual Storytime
(510) 293-8685
https://www.hayward-ca.gov/public-library

Fremont Main Library

Digital Lending
Ecards
Virtual classes/meetups
Tutoring
Homeless Services
(510) 745-1400
https://guides.aclibrary.org/fremont

Milpitas Library

Digital Lending 
Ecards
Tutoring
Virtual classes/meetups
Census Information
Passport Services
(408) 262-1171
https://sccld.org/locations/MI/

Editor’s Note:
Fremont Main, Castro Valley and San Lorenzo libraries are offering “no contact pickup” services. Items can be requested online, by phone or in-person by filling out a hold request and retrieving the items at a no-contact pickup table. Additional information is available at

https://guides.aclibrary.org/NoContactPickup

or by calling:
Fremont Main: (510) 745-1400
Castro Valley: (510) 667-7900
San Lorenzo: (510) 284-0640

Local Makers Join Forces to Help Fight Coronavirus

By David R. Newman

Medical supplies are in short supply these days, but thanks to some innovative thinking by nonprofits like Maker Nexus, doctors and nurses who are on the front lines fighting Covid-19 are able to operate safely.

Maker Nexus is a maker space in Sunnyvale that provides tools and training for a membership fee. For $150 per month, users have access to 3D printers, laser cutters, a woodshop, metal shop, vinyl cutter, heat press, and more. When word spread that hospitals were running out of personal protective equipment, primarily face masks, face shields, and gloves, the idea to 3D print them was born.

Says Eric Hess, General Manager of Maker Nexus,” It was very clear that there was going to be a shortage based on the experience in Italy and the initial cases that were coming up in the Santa Clara region.” They decided to focus on creating face shields, a product that lends itself well to the 3D printing process.

After researching face shields online, Hess settled on a design created by Prusa, a 3D printing company based in the Czech Republic (Maker Nexus owns five of their printers). Prusa face shields were already being used in hospitals throughout Europe. However, design changes were needed, as doctors and nurses here wanted protection over their heads as well to prevent droplets from falling into their eyes.

After a few design tweaks, Hess ran the first print on March 19. Two days later, the first prototype was in the hands of local medical professionals. Says Hess, “It was a very rapid process. That’s one of the cool things about a maker space. You can iterate very quickly through a design process with a bunch of different people contributing, even though they’re all working remotely.”

In fact, maker spaces across the country have leapt into action in the war against the Coronavirus, filling the gap left by traditional manufacturing methods. Says Hess, “There’s a huge problem with the supply chain right now because factories in China are shut down. This is compounded by the tremendous demand for equipment. This is a way that we can step up to help the community by providing some immediate solutions that traditional manufacturing can’t fulfill.”

It would seem to be the perfect scenario for the maker community. As Shelter-In-Place orders keep everyone at home, those with 3D printers can simply download the plans and start producing parts. Hess estimates that around 400 volunteers have signed up to help, with more being added every day. The main challenge right now is obtaining the material needed to keep production flowing. Says Hess, “We’re trying to reach out directly to the larger suppliers.”

Local students have also risen to the occasion, including Aditya Indla, a sophomore at Bellermine Prep in San Jose. Along with his uncle, a researcher at UC Berkeley, and his school’s maker lab, he has joined the fight not only by making face shields but by raising money to help buy the needed plastic. They estimate that each face shield costs around $5 – $10 to make. Indla has started a GoFundMe page (see link below) with a goal of raising $10,000.

As of this writing, the Maker Nexus community is producing about 300 face shields per day, with a total of over 5,000 face shields having already been delivered to local medical facilities, including the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Foundation, Kaiser in Oakland, Good Samaritan Hospital, Alta Bates Medical Center, Highland Hospital, Benioff Children’s Hospital, and the Weil Cornell Medical Center in New York. 

Maker Nexus currently has requests for over 20,000 face shields from over 130 different medical facilities. As the number of Coronavirus cases continue to rise and demand for more face shields increases drastically from day to day, Hess admits it’s been a little overwhelming.

“It’s been a challenge. But we’re a community organization – it’s primary component of who we are. And together we can help get this equipment into the hands of the doctors and nurses on the front lines.”

For More Information and Ways to Help:
https://www.covidshieldnexus.org/
https://www.gofundme.com/f/3d-print-covid19-healthcare-faceshields