California passes consumer protection, online privacy law

California lawmakers passed and Governor Jerry Brown [official website] signed the California Consumer Privacy Act [text] Thursday, granting broad online privacy protections to consumers.

Assembly member and bill sponsor Ed Chau said in a statement [press release], “Today, California took a historic step in enacting legislation to protect children and consumers by giving them control over their own personal data. Consumers should have a right to choose how their personal information is collected and used by businesses. It is your data, your privacy, your choice.”

Starting January 1, 2020, the law grants consumers the right to, among other things:

  • Ask a business to disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal information that it collects about the consumer, the purposes for doing so, and any third parties the information is shared with;
  • Request deletion of personal information; and
  • Opt out of the sale of personal information with penalty

The law requires companies to make disclosures about the information they collect and the purposes for which it is used. It also authorizes businesses to offer financial incentives in exchange for the collection of personal information.

The law was introduced last week in an effort to defeat a stricter ballot initiative that had been set for November. Because it passed, the November ballot initiative will be removed [WIRED report].

The passage of the law follows various personal information scandals, most notably in March, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal [JURIST report], and a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] filed by Android users for Facebook’s use of personal contact data, including call and text message information.