In recent years, “cancel culture” has targeted many individuals, businesses, and organizations with the intention of silencing them into submission. In one tactic, political activists target or hack donor lists of groups they disagree with and publicly shame or intimidate donors and/or their businesses who expected that their gifts would be kept private. For example, some donors to the Canadian truckers’ Freedom Convoy had their gifts made public, and the givers were subjected to public shaming, in some cases costing them their reputations and livelihoods.

To remedy this, the General Assembly passed HB 970 and Governor Glenn Youngkin signed it April 11.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Zack Pruitt had this to say about the signing Monday of HB 970, a bill that protects the private information of individuals who support charities and other nonprofit organizations of their choice:

Every American should be free to peacefully support causes they believe in without fear of harassment or intimidation. HB 970 is an important step in guaranteeing privacy protections for all Virginians in a manner consistent with last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta, which affirmed that the First Amendment’s promise of ‘free association’ includes the right to privacy in financial giving. We thank Gov. Youngkin and the Virginia General Assembly for safeguarding the ability of Virginians to give freely and privately without unnecessary government interference.

As an organization dedicated to the preservation of Freedom of Conscience, ADF cites the following quotations from famous Americans about that liberty:

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” –Thomas Jefferson

“Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well, especially in those quiet moments, when the spotlight’s not on us, and we’re making those daily choices about how to live our lives.” – Michelle Obama

This column has been republished with permission from The Roanoke Star.

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One response to “Youngkin Signs Donor-Privacy Bill”

  1. Moderate Avatar

    Actually, this legislation makes minimal changes to 2021 law that goes into effect on January 1, 2023. What this legislation does is exclude political non-profit organizations from the requirements of the Consumer Data Privacy legislation. They will not have to respond to a consumer’s request to remove their information from their database. They will not have to let consumers to see the information they have about us. In short, consumers will not get the minimal data protection the law actually affords consumers. This isn’t privacy protection for individuals, it’s organizations avoiding responsibility for protecting our individual privacy!

    Consumers are going to find it VERY difficult to exercise the rights the underlying 2021 law claims to give us.

    We have to follow the process designed by each entity with which we do business, on their website. There is not a standard process, so we will need to carefully read and understand the information each company provides us. Each of us must do this for ourselves, we can’t ask someone else to do it for us. As written, I don’t think businesses even have to follow the guidance we can try to give them by using a new web-browser extension designed for this purpose.

    If a consumer disagrees with the decisions made by the company, we must appeal to them and go through the appeal process that company designed. If we’re still not satisfied and can afford it, we canNOT seek an attorney’s help to file a lawsuit. Only the Virginia Attorney General can take them to court, and then only after giving the company 30 days to “cure” the problem. If they do, no penalty.

    The Attorney General will not be able to help an individual consumer recoup financial losses so there will be no way for individuals to recover losses.

    The legislation’s patrons have acknowledged that the bill was designed by industry. Consumer advocates only found out about it after the legislation was well on its way to approval. Neither the study committee process that was conducted over the last year nor the 2022 legislative process were open to improving the legislation so it really can protect consumers.

    In future years, legislators are likely to have to address high levels of constituent anger over perceived consumer data protection that’s really designed so that there’s very little a consumer can do to protect our data.

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