Assembly Bill 1637 by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D- Thousand Oaks) calls for local government agencies throughout California to use a primary or secondary “.gov” or “.ca.gov” domain for official websites and email addresses. As a measure to improve cybersecurity standards, the legislation aims to expedite the switch for hundreds of city and county governments and their subordinate agencies with a non-standard domain, such as “.com” or “.org”. The bill sets a deadline of January 1, 2027.
“The public’s trust in government is foundational for a healthy democracy. With rising levels of misinformation and fraud perpetrated online, and more sophisticated threat actors intending to confuse and mislead, we can no longer be haphazard about how governments are presented online. California’s public agencies should take every effort to safeguard the public’s trust in our institutions, especially when they are recommended and offered free of charge by federal and state authorities,” says the bill’s author in a committee analysis. “AB 1637 requires local agencies to transition their websites and e-mails to the .gov or ca.gov domain, so when Californians look for government information or services, they can know with confidence they are receiving official information.”
“Initial sampling of local governments has identified considerable costs and programmatic impacts that would result from AB 1637. Extrapolated to all local agencies throughout the state, cumulative costs to local agencies (cities, counties, special districts, school districts) are likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” says a committee analysis of the bill. “Further, we know that smaller local entities will be challenged to meet the current deadline with existing staff. In this constrained fiscal climate, we are hard-pressed to consider a project of this scope as a statewide, jurisdiction-wide priority among other direct service responsibilities to local communities for which our members are already obligated.”
The state would potentially reimburse local agencies for costs, subject to a determination by the Commission on State Mandates, according to the most recent analysis. The costs are unknown but likely in the millions of dollars.