Alabama Protects Consumer Privacy by Enacting SB234

Posted on Jun 1, 2017
Alabama Protects Consumer Privacy by Enacting SB234

On May 26, Governor Kay Ivey signed SB234 into law. This important legislation by Senator Bill Holtzclaw protects the consumer against having his or her personal information collected by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and its licensees. It was championed in the House by Representative Anthony Daniels.

An Invasive Regulation Proposed

In July 2016, the Alabama ABC proposed a requirement for breweries and brewpubs to collect the name, address, telephone number, date of birth, and the transaction details of each citizen who purchased beer at its licensed premise.

The Guild was originally told that this proposal was designed to enforce a 288 ounce limit on retail sales from the brewery, but the ABC later stated that their purpose was to align regulations with statutory requirements in Alabama law.

The proposal was strongly criticized by Free the Hops, a craft beer consumer advocacy organization. The Alabama Brewers Guild submitted formal opposition to the proposal and suggested several less invasive alternatives.

The public reaction was almost universally against the proposal. Although we do not have a count, we believe at least several hundred citizens contacted the ABC to ask that they abandon the concept.

Proposal Dropped but ABC Still Asserts Requirement

On September 28, the ABC Board formally met to vote on the package of proposals that included the personal data requirement. They amended the proposal to remove the collection of personally identifiable information.

While we were pleased the ABC Board dropped the proposal, we were also disheartened to hear ABC officials asserting that existing statutory law required the collection of information anyway because of § 28-3A-6(e) of the Alabama Code

Every manufacturer shall keep at its principal place of business within the state, daily permanent records which shall show the quantities of raw materials received and used in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, and the quantities of alcoholic beverages manufactured and stored, the sale of alcoholic beverages, the quantities of alcoholic beverages stored for hire or transported for hire by or for the licensee and the names and addresses of the purchasers or other recipients thereof.

This law, which has been in place for more than 36 years, had never been interpreted to mean brewers or other manufacturers of alcohol must record the name and address of private consumers. Wineries have been authorized to sell alcohol to-go since this law was enacted but have never been required to collect this information.

ABC Works with Alabama Legislature to Amend Statute

The Alabama Brewers Guild disagreed with this new interpretation, but we appreciated that the ABC agreed to work with Senator Holtzclaw to clarify that the reporting requirement should not apply to private citizens.

SB234 was introduced on February 23, 2017. The ABC worked with Senator Holtzclaw on language, and it was amended in committee on March 9.

The ABC Board supported this clarifying change to Alabama law. Before being sent to the Governor, it was passed in the Senate 27-0 and later in the House 67-16.