Brown signs online privacy laws

SACRAMENTO — College students will have free digital access to many textbooks, receive more warning about tuition hikes and have their social media accounts protected from snooping university officials under measures approved by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.

The new privacy laws also prohibit employers from asking workers or job applicants for their email or social media account passwords. Fittingly, Brown announced his action on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace.

Some businesses have started requesting the passwords to check applicants’ backgrounds, and college coaches have asked athletes for access to their Facebook accounts to keep tabs on them.

“California pioneered the social media revolution,” Brown tweeted. “These laws protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.”

Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) introduced the measure, SB 1349, noting that students often post personal information, including their religion and sexual orientation, on social networking sites. Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) is author of AB 1844, which applies to employers. All of the bills take effect Jan. 1.


Brown invited several college students to join him as he signed a bill to create a website on which popular textbooks can be downloaded for free.

Twin bills by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) will give students free digital access to 50 core textbooks for lower-division courses offered by the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems. Hard copies of the texts would cost $20.

“There’s absolutely no reason a basic biology, statistics or accounting textbook, for example, should cost $200,” Steinberg said after his measures, SB 1052 and SB 1053, were signed.

Steinberg expects the first free books to be available by the start of the 2013-2014 school year, spokesman Mark Hedlund said.

Brown also signed into law a requirement that UC and Cal State officials consult with student representatives before increasing fees and provide them with adequate notice of increases. Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale) wrote AB 970.

Athletes at UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley and Stanford would get assistance to complete their degrees if they lose their athletic scholarships because of career-ending injuries on the field under another bill signed by the governor.

The measure by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) requires universities that generate more than $10 million in media revenue annually to provide equivalent academic scholarships to student athletes who are injured and lose their sports scholarships, or have exhausted their NCAA athletic eligibility before they have completed their degree. The bill is SB 1425.

Another measure the governor approved is intended to protect young actors in Hollywood. The new law would bar registered sex offenders from representing minors working in the entertainment industry. It would require criminal background checks for managers, publicists, photographers and other adults who would have unsupervised access to young performers.

The Times reported last fall that a convicted child molester had been working in Hollywood, helping to cast child actors in film roles. Shortly thereafter, a manager who specialized in representing young talent was arrested and subsequently convicted of felony child molestation. The measure, AB 1660, was written by Campos.

Times reports about conflicts of interest involving the state’s high-speed rail project spawned another bill that Brown accepted Thursday. Members of the board charged with overseeing construction of the bullet-train system will be required to publicly identify any financial interest they have in a board decision. They will also have to disqualify themselves from acting on those matters. AB 41, by Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), takes effect immediately.

The governor also signed a bill prohibiting junk dealers and recyclers from possessing fire hydrants, manhole covers and other metallic government property and providing an additional $3,000 fine for violations. Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) introduced SB 1387 in response to a wave of thefts of metal objects on city streets.

Times staff writer Dawn Chmielewski contributed to this report.