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Online Privacy Bill Stalls With 16-16 Vote In California Senate

After a short but intensive bout of lobbying by tech companies, a privacy bill being pushed by a state legislator lost on a 16-16 vote on the floor of the Calfiornia State Senate. The battle isn’t over, since the sponsor of SB 242, State Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro) has promised to re-introduce the bill next week.

Even though the vote was a “tie” of sorts, it was actually five votes short of passage. The California State Senate has 40 senators in total, and a majority of 21 votes are needed to pass legislation out of that chamber. The bill’s 16 opponents included nearly all of the Republicans in the senate, and two Democrats, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Corbett told her colleagues: “Let’s tell the people of California that we can do something meaningful about protecting people’s individual privacy, protect Californians from identity theft and protect our children from predators.”

One Republican state senator who voted against the bill told the LAT that privacy regulation should be considered at the national level, not on a state-by-state basis.

Corbett has said she’ll reintroduce the bill next week. But that will probably be her last chance to win pasasge. Next Friday is the deadline for any bills to pass out of the senate this session.

Facebook has been a vocal opponent of this bill, and a spokesman for the company offered this statement on the vote today: “Lawmakers rejected Senator Ellen Corbett’s bill today because it was a step in the wrong direction for California’s growing Internet industry at a time when the state’s economy can least afford it. Senator Corbett is arguing for unnecessary regulations that ignore the extraordinary lengths that companies like ours go to in order to protect individuals’ privacy and give them the tools to determine for themselves how much information they wish to share online.”