News Room

California Leads Nation Towards Stronger Data Privacy

Written on behalf of Brian Kabateck

July 13, 2018

California lawmakers recently established restrictions on the tech industry, putting in place a privacy bill that will give consumers better protection over their data. Governor Jerry Brown signed data privacy legislation that gives consumers more control over how their private information is used and distributed. The California Consumer Privacy Act will let consumers ask companies what personal data they collect, and opt out of having their data sold, among other privacy provisions. The law only applies to consumers in California, and tech companies will likely shift their policies to conform to the new law. It could persuade Congress to consider turning it into federal legislation, after many complaints from consumers saying that the issue was not being taken seriously.

California trial lawyers, including myself, worked hard at the state capital to find a way to help consumers recover damages and ensure they are not held to the nearly impossible standard of proving their stolen data was used for identity theft and caused them direct economic loss. What makes this law so impactful is that it includes damages up to $750 for each victim of a data breach, creating a powerful incentive for tech companies that have been slow to implement security measures to prevent widespread data breaches.

This new California law is also aimed at protecting consumers from companies that charge them a premium if they don’t share their data. The law also prohibits a business from selling the personal data of anybody under the age of 16 unless the child agrees, and parental permission is required for children under the age of 13. In all, it gives consumers the right to have their personal data deleted, the right to know the commercial purpose for collecting their data and the categories of sources from which the data are collected. That alone could ring in great benefits for consumers. A lot of people are aware that their online activity is being tracked for targeted advertising, which is evident when we download an app and it asks for permission to view your information, but we don’t really know how exactly the data is used.

Consumers will now be able to ask companies to delete their personal information, which would stop them from selling any of their information. It’s similar to data privacy regulation in the EU, which allows consumers control over use of their data. This move comes after recent reports of large data breaches at companies like Equifax and Wells Fargo. Facebook also has faced scrutiny over revelations that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica collected data from millions of Facebook users without their knowledge. The new law takes effect on January 1, 2020, and lawmakers say they’ll make alterations to improve the policy before then.

People should be in control of their information, and how it’s used online. Companies should be held to high standards in explaining what data they have and how they use it, especially when they sell the information. The law puts California at the forefront of improving privacy rights in the country, and hopefully this will be an example for other states, ensuring privacy and personal information are protected.

Consumer protection laws are designed to ensure the rights of vulnerable consumers in society. The laws are a form of government directive intended to protect the rights of consumers.

Among some of these protection laws are the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Credit Billing Act, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Business and Professions Code 17200.

Disputes involving private legal relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services give rise to the very basis why consumer protection laws were put in place. These divergences are often plagued in the legal arena of product defects, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other business interactions.

Our firm is committed to standing up to big businesses that engage in fraud or unfair practices to gain an advantage over competitors. This includes protecting the public from false or misleading advertising in situations like “bait and switch” advertising tactics, warranty misrepresentation, defective products, forced arbitration clauses and identity theft. Class action lawsuits can provide recourse for consumers whose rights have been violated by companies that engage in abusive business practices.