Guest Opinion: Pleasanton chamber opposes expensive e-receipt mandate


If you asked 100 Californians if they want to give more of their personal information while eating at a restaurant or buying school supplies for their kids, what do you think the answer would be?

A current law moving through the state legislature says the answer to that question should be "yes."

Steve Van Dorn
Assembly Bill 161 mandates that every small business in California provide digital e-receipts on all transactions. Traditional paper receipts would only be available if the customer specifically requests it, and any business not in complete compliance with the proposed law would be subject to penalties like government fines.

If this bill passes, your default experience as a customer will be to input your personal information at the register every time you make a purchase. And the clerk at the convenience store down the street who just wants to quickly sell you that small bottle of orange juice will now be responsible for safeguarding your data.

In short, every time consumers offer up personally identifiable information, they will be providing yet another pathway to be bombarded with unwanted ads and solicitations -- not to mention the wholesale mining of their email address, purchase order and other data.

Enormous risks to personal privacy exist as well. Mandated digital e-receipts for all purchases create a digital link that has the potential to dramatically undermine relationships between children and parents, between spouses and between colleagues who all share access to digital e-receipts. Personal purchases are no longer personal.

Additionally, compliance with AB 161 will actively undermine the larger goals and responsibilities of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the landmark privacy bill passed last year.

Customers will be required to provide some personally identifiable information during the check-out transaction. The check-out clerk will also have to provide CCPA-mandated disclosures during every transaction that includes the kind of information required by a mandated e-receipt, like personal email addresses or cell phone numbers.

Customers have the right to opt out of having their information collected and can request that every business provide a detailed accounting of how they maintain and use their customers' information. A laudable goal to be sure, but at the risk of putting individual small businesses in the position of trying to be data security experts.

Stores will also have to pay tens of thousands of dollars -- up to $45,000 per store -- to adapt their point-of-sale systems. Even then, CCPA puts into place a level of liability around e-receipts that billion-dollar technology start-ups might be able to navigate but will be a daily struggle for businesses and their consumers.

Beyond those who expect and demand minimum privacy in their digital lives, AB 161 creates new privacy concerns for the wide swath of Californians who are not digitally savvy or do not reside in areas with ubiquitous networks -- seniors, children, the unbanked, those without email addresses or smartphones or people within our community whose families depend on actively limiting their digital footprint.

It's your receipt. It's your personal information. It's your data. And it's your privacy that AB 161 will undermine.

Editor's note: Steve Van Dorn is president and CEO of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.

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3 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 26, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Good Grief. No wonder so many small business fail. $45K fine sounds like extortion.

10 people like this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 26, 2019 at 2:30 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

And this is only the beginning of this governor's reign. You all voted for accept the consequences. You can't have one party rule...that's communism. And when all of the middle class tax payers leave what will you do then? Whine and cry like they did in Detroit. Ya, it could come to that.

7 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 26, 2019 at 5:23 pm solve what problem?

8 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 26, 2019 at 6:06 pm

Newsom has a think tank, they are charged with conjuring up what they can tax.
One of the items they have identified out of their first meeting, tax the drinking water.

What is up next to be taxed?

For this one party rule in California, there is no tax limit.

1 person likes this
Posted by Cheap cheap
a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 27, 2019 at 11:24 am

That’s the idea behind AB 161, which would force businesses that earn over $1 million a year to switch to cyber receipts, in an effort to curb waste and impacts to the environment.

“It takes up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water in the U.S. every year to produce these receipts,” Ting (D- San Francisco) said at a press conference earlier this year.

Ting sourced data from Green America, a non-profit organization based in the United States that promotes ethical consumerism.

“Guess what, they can’t be recycled because of the BPA,” Ting said.

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is an organic synthetic compound which can present serious health issues to people.

As for the privacy issue, seems like everyone requires an email address for one thing or another so my advice is to have a 'public' email address for potential spammers and a private email address. Good practice whether or not you support AB 161.

Can I have extra commenter points for not njecting partisan politics into the discussion?

Like this comment
Posted by Drabble Fan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2019 at 10:16 am

Good Drabble comic today (Web Link). They calculated it would take 11 CVS receipts to go to the moon and back.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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