California legislators have approved a bill that would require companies that make payments to foreign governments to keep records on them, a move critics say could violate U.S. privacy laws.
Under the legislation, which passed in the state Assembly Tuesday, companies could not pay to “contribute to or promote” a foreign government, including one in which there is an active extradition treaty or an agreement to extradite someone to the U.K. or other countries.
California has one of the strictest privacy laws in the nation.
But the bill’s backers say they’re seeking to prevent spammers from using the payment system to launder illegal activity.
It is the latest in a series of laws that aim to prevent companies from providing payments to governments with questionable ties to terrorism.
The U.N. has repeatedly called on the United States to reform its privacy laws to allow the collection of private information and to require companies to retain records of the data they collect.
California passed the law after the California-based Spanish-language news outlet Agencia Española (AFP) published a report on Spanish-speaking social media sites in April showing how companies had used foreign governments’ social media accounts to make payments.
The newspaper reported that in the first half of 2017, payments to the Philippines totaled $12 million, followed by the Philippines, Brazil, India, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement, the U,S.
Embassy in Manila called the AP story “inaccurate and misleading.”
The embassy said it was “disappointed” by the report, but added that “we are confident that this is a serious matter.”
The report did not provide the names of the companies or how many payments were made.AFP did not respond to a request for comment.
The AP report detailed how a company in California used a Facebook account linked to a Brazilian national who had been detained in the U (the “Brazilian” account was used for payments to Brazilian entities).
The account was connected to a fake Facebook page in which the Brazilian was making payments to a U.M.G. and the company’s owner, the AP reported.
The Brazilian, identified by the name Carlos Alves da Silva, was extradited to the United Kingdom and eventually extradited back to the Netherlands.
A report from the AP also revealed that a company based in Spain, a company owned by a Brazilian, and a company linked to Alves were using Spanish social media to make a payment to the Mexican government.
The company’s director of finance, Eduardo Gómez, who also happens to be the president of the company, was charged with embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering.
He was extraditted to the UK in September.
The Spanish- and Portuguese-language accounts linked to the Brazilian account were used to send payments totaling $12,848 to Mexico.