Goldberg & Oot: California Bill on Protective Orders Threatens Privacy Norms

California is considering legislation that would fundamentally change the nature of civil litigation in the state in a way that threatens national and international privacy norms.

The bill — California S.B. 1149, or the Public Right to Know Act — infringes on the ability of the parties to obtain protective orders over confidential information, even when that information is subject to state, federal or international privacy laws.

The debate is largely over private documents that parties are required to share during pretrial discovery in product and environmental cases. These documents may or may not lead to admissible evidence, but parties must produce them to opposing parties that can see if any information in the documents supports their case.

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