California is ringing in the new year by giving 40 million Californians digital-privacy rights stronger than any seen in the US. While California happily expands on digital privacy for its inhabitants, Big Tech companies and the data economy are faced with challenges for 2020.
On January 1, one in 10 Americans gained control over the personal information collected by large companies around the world via the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This is anything from purchase histories and location tracking, to compiled profiles that categorize people by religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Additionally, under the act, Californians can also force these companies — including banks and retailers — to stop selling their information, or even delete it, in bulk.
To make the law effective, the public will need to take the initiative to opt-out of data sales, request their own information and file for damages in the case of data breaches. These damages could draw up to $7,500 fines for each violation of the law.
The CCPA is the US’s biggest effort to confront “surveillance capitalism,” the business of profiting from data most Americans unknowingly give up for access to free and often ad-supported services.
The law will provide people the authority to make decisions about how their information is gathered. The CCPA also defines data sales so broadly it covers almost any information sharing that provides a benefit to a business.
While this may be an advantage for consumers who don’t want to be bombarded by advertisements, some companies are posing potential drawbacks of CCPA. One of which is the law only impacting information collected by businesses and not the government.
Already, companies have shown early signs of compliance in the form of “Don’t sell my personal information” links at the bottom of many corporate websites.
CCPA’s Biggest Impact
It remains unclear to what extent and how CCPA will affect the business of targeted advertisements through which big corporations collect personal data.
For parents, CCPA is beneficial for their kids’ privacy. The law forbids the sale of data from kids under 16 without consent. “The last thing you want is for any company to think that we’re going to soft on letting you misuse kids’ personal information,” Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, said at a press conference in December.
One limitation that’s surfaced — the CCPA doesn’t stop companies from collecting personal information or limit how they store it. People can ask a company to delete their data, but that doesn’t inhibit them from collecting it again. However, some believe if rights are exercised correctly, this law can be transformational for some.
“If we do this right in California,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, the state will “put the capital P back into privacy for all Americans.”
Not only that, but 2020 will provide the blueprint for CCPA and how Californians make use of their privacy.