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What California’s new data protection rules mean for you

Many businesses have recently been through a process of proofing their operations to comply with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that were put into effect in May 2018. If you are one of these businesses, we’re sure you are feeling super happy that this is over and done with… but unfortunately, we might have some bad news for you. California has passed a new law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which is due to be implanted in 2020. This piece of legislation has been compared to GDPR and will require businesses to make changes so that customer information is more secure and private.

What does the California Consumer Privacy Act entail?

The new act was approved last year, though it has recently jumped back into the news. On February 22nd , a motion was filed that stated consumers would be able to sue businesses for damages if the business was accused of breaking the law. With concerns growing over the safety of public information, this act is simply another step in the right direction when it comes to data safety. Nonetheless many companies will be concerned over what this means for their operations.

Currently this is uncertain, and this is where the issue lies when it comes to CCPA. Although the legislation has been passed, the specifics of the regulations will not be published until 2020. This means that the regulation will be continuously changing as the end date draws nearer. This also means that companies will be guessing how they can best prepare for this introduction of the legislation. So far, we know that:

- Transparency is key. Transparency is a term that is popular at present, yet this is for good reason. We would say that legislation is being put in place for two reasons; to keep public information safe and to keep the public happy. Transparency is the element that keeps the public happy and allows them to understand exactly what is happening with their information.

- Consequently, businesses must tell customers exactly what information they are collecting from them. In addition to this, they must also be totally transparent about how it is being harvested and if it is being shared.

- Companies must also make it clear that the public can ask that the business deletes all personal data that is held on them. Importantly, this also means that it is down to that business to ensure that data is deleted from any third-party organisations.

- In align with the above, customers must be given the chance to opt in or opt out of having their data sold to third party data providers.

- If customers are under the age of 13, then the business wishing to sell personal information must get consent from a parent or guardian. It is notable to add here that it would be very hard to guarantee that consumers are of the age specified.

What does this mean for you?

This means that you need to be aware and up to date with all company activities that relate to the public’s personal information. Under CCPA this is defined as “information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.” This is something that you need to be aware of in the digital age whether this law directly relates to you or not.

Leading on from this you should check that this law does apply to your business. Your business must meet one or more of the following; it must generate an annual gross revenue in excess of $25 million, it must share personal information of more than 50,000 Californian residents, or it must derive at least 50% of its annual revenue by selling the personal information of Californian residents. The point to take away from this is that you do not need to be in California for this law to apply to your business.

What should you do?

As the legislation is still being decided, we cannot offer concrete insight or advice just yet. All we can say is that the best thing you can do is to prepare for what is to come. However, we would imagine that the new rules will align relatively closely with that of GDPR. We suggest keeping up to date with any changes in CCPA and prepare to make changes to your business data model.

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