Earlier this month, supporters of a proposed California data privacy initiative known as The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “Act”) announced that they had collected 625,000 signatures for the initiative’s inclusion in the state’s November ballot. The number of collected signatures well exceeds the 365,880 count necessary under state regulations for inclusion of a statutory initiative on the ballot. The Act would allow consumers to learn about and demand access to their personal data collected by companies and place affirmative duties on companies to stop collecting such data upon consumers’ requests. As such, the Act projects to be the focus of considerable debate and expense leading up to the November ballot.
The Act sets forth certain rights that consumers possess with respect to the collection of their personal data:
- Consumers have the right to request companies collecting their personal data to disclose to consumer the categories of that data that are being collected;
- Companies collecting consumers’ personal data are subject to disclosure requirements regarding that data upon receipt of a verifiable request from a consumer, and;
- Companies must also disclose the categories of personal data they are collecting in an online-accessible format.
Consumers also have the right to learn whether their personal data has been sold and to whom and can instruct companies not to sell their personal data, known as “the right to opt out.” Companies that sell personal data must clearly and conspicuously make the right to opt out known to consumers on their websites. The Act also requires companies not to discriminate against consumers who make such requests and provides California’s Attorney General with civil enforcement authority and consumers with a private right of action against companies who violate the Act.
The Act has already encountered opposition from companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and Google, each of whom have donated $200,000 to defeat the measure. The Committee to Protect California Jobs, which is the primary advocacy group in opposition to the measure, has claimed that the Act is “unworkable, requiring the internet and business in California to operate differently than the rest of the world – limiting our choices, hurting our businesses, and cutting our connection to the global economy.” Facebook had also given $200,000 in opposition to the Act, although it announced in April that it was withdrawing its contribution “in order to focus [its] efforts on supporting reasonable privacy measures in California.”
The submitted initiative must go through a signature verification process conducted by local officials before it is officially placed on the upcoming ballot.
The proposed language of the Act can be found here.