California’s Groundbreaking Privacy Law: The New Front Line in the U.S. Privacy Debate

July 13, 2018

On the heels of the European Union’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) and public outcry over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, on June 28, 2018, California enacted the most comprehensive data privacy law to date in the United States.

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “CCPA”) was hastily passed by the California legislature to secure the withdrawal of an even more far-reaching measure that had qualified for the November ballot. The sponsor of that initiative had agreed to withdraw the ballot measure if the legislature passed the bill prior to the withdrawal deadline, given the difficulty of making any revisions to a measure enacted by initiative rather than the legislature. Legislative amendments to the law are expected before it goes into effect on January 1, 2020, and the law requires the California Attorney General to develop certain implementing regulations.

The CCPA requires covered businesses to comply with requirements that give California consumers broad rights to know what personal information has been collected about them, the sources for the information, the purpose of collecting it, and whether it is sold or otherwise disclosed to third parties. It also gives consumers the right to access personal information about them held by covered businesses, to require deletion of the information and/or to prevent its sale to third parties. Other key provisions limit the ability of a covered business to discriminate against consumers who exercise their rights under the statute by charging them higher prices or delivering lower quality products or services.