This post discusses litigation exposure that businesses collecting personal information about California consumers should consider in the wake of the California Legislature’s passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). The CCPA creates a limited private right of action for suits arising out of data breaches. At the same time, it also precludes individuals from using it as a basis for a private right of action under any other statute. Both features of the law have potentially far-reaching implications and will garner the attention of an already relentless plaintiffs’ bar when it goes into effect January 1, 2020.
Words matter. Nowhere is this truer than in legislation, where word choices—often the product of long debate and imperfect compromise—determine the scope and impact of a law. Legislative history can speak volumes about those word choices, and the unique legislative history of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) only highlights the importance of understanding the terms used in the act. We thus focus here on discussing some of the CCPA’s key definitional terms.
Not many people will remember this but in 2008, Richard Thomas, the former UK Information Commissioner caused a fairly dramatic stir in the privacy world – at least among policy makers and fellow regulators – by unashamedly proclaiming that European data protection law was outdated and ineffective to address the technological and privacy challenges of the 21st century. At first, this was regarded by some as an embarrassing admission that could not possibly be right. But only two years later, the European Commission started a process of wholesale legislative reform that culminated with the adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation in April 2016. We all know by now that the GDPR is the result of many political and regulatory compromises caused by the precarious balance created by the various forces at play – the unstoppable development of technology, the increasing value of data, the urgent need to protect people’s digital lives, and the prosperity of Europe and the rest of the work.