The federal government has shown little interest in the topic of privacy despite the world seemingly being fixated on the subject. What is the Californa Consumer Privacy Act? An effort by California to step into the void and set a new privacy standard for personal information collection and use in the United States.
California Consumer Privacy Act
An interesting aspect of the California Consumer Privacy Act has been the impact on other states. An old cliche’ exists suggesting that if California enacts a unique piece of legislation, other states will soon follow. As with most cliche’s, there is a hint of truth to this one. Many states are now waking up to the topic of privacy. State officials are introducing legislation and states, such as Washington [not D.C.], are on the cusp of passing privacy legislation.
And here is the irony.
National Privacy Law
The topic of privacy is about to become more confusing for consumers, not simpler. The problem? No unified privacy law. Instead of a national privacy law that requires businesses to follow a set of requirements, states are passing privacy laws with a wide variety of compliance requirements. Consumers visiting three websites may see unique privacy language, pop-ups, and privacy policies as the site tries to comply with the laws of different states. Instead of empowering consumers, new laws will create massive confusion.
Burden On Businesses
The new state privacy laws are creating a massive burden on businesses. At a minimum, every online business must now analyze the laws of 25 plus states to determine if compliance is required. If it is, the business must then spend the time and money tweaking its site and systems to comply. Some online sites may need to comply with the privacy laws of 20 states. Other sites might have to comply with the laws of 28 states. Others only nine states. Ah, but then the site needs to conduct at least annual audits to determine if the growth of the business will trigger compliance in states where it was previously not required.
Whatever your political leanings, there is little doubt the coming chaos is the responsibility of one group – our representatives in Washington, D.C. Democrats and Republicans. Congress and the President. In failing to seriously consider a privacy law in 2018, the federal government failed in its primary purpose. Congress appears to realize as much finally. Committees are now holding hearings on a national privacy law. Let’s hope that process moves forward quickly before the states run too far a muck. Until then, compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act will be a must, but business owners will also need to keep an eye on developments in other states.
What is the Californa Consumer Privacy Act? California’s new privacy law and a defacto kick in the pants to our elected representatives in Washington, D.C.
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.