Is the US Inching Toward GDPR-Type Consumer Privacy Laws? California Is.

California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, is expected to sign into law a set of new amendments that seek to empower consumers with greater say in how their personal information is handled and it may take effect January 1, 2020. 

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) recent amendments give internet users the ability to see what information is being collected about them and give them the ability to decide whether their information can be sold.

The CCPA does not allow for consumer litigation against companies, however it does put a new onus upon companies which may result in increased fines for any companies that do not comply. 

Intents of the CCPA include providing consumers with the right to… 

  • Know what personal data is being collected about them
  • Know whether their personal data is sold or disclosed and to whom
  • Say no to the sale of personal data
  • Access their personal data
  • Request a business to delete any personal information about a consumer
  • Not be discriminated against for exercising their privacy rights 

Additionally, the CCPA asserts that…

Organizations are required to “implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices” in protecting consumer data. – Wikipedia 

There are exemptions, whereas the CCPA would (in its current form) only apply to businesses that (1) do business with California residents and any one of the following items: (1a) has annual gross revenue exceeding $25 million, (1b) possesses personal information on more than 50,000 consumers, or (1c) earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ information. 

This would be a landmark case and a likely precursor to other US states taking similar action. As MarketWatch points out, the “CCPA mirrors the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with one key difference: It defines “personal information” more expansively…”. 

Additionally, Analysts that spoke with MarketWatch on the matter suggest that though this may be a bellwether point in the impending regulation (as well as the adoption of similar laws in states across the country) of the internet via US law, it is not likely to upend many internet businesses. 

While the potential for fines of larger businesses will exist through the acceptance of this set of laws, early forecasting suggests we’ll only see minor to modest changes to the business as usual of online commerce. 

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