The federal government has shown little interest in addressing the topic of privacy despite the rest of 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 in the United States.
And here is the irony.
With multiple states enacting privacy legislation, the topic of privacy is about to become more confusing for consumers than ever. Each new law contains independent, unique approaches to the topic of privacy. Instead of a single, simplified system of conditions everyone – businesses and consumers – can comply with and understand – the privacy landscape is going to consist of a hodgepodge of esoterica, red tape, and strange things. Some companies may need to meet with the requirements of one state while others do not depending on the conduct and data collected by each company. An analysis will need to be conducted for each state running up legal costs and the administrative burden. Consumers will then be faced with a variety of approaches to addressing privacy. A company will have one approach if it must comply with Washington state law. A second company will have another approach as it tries to comply with California law. A third company will have yet another approach as it tries to comply with both California law and various federal laws. In short, a mess.
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 consider a privacy law in 2018 seriously, the federal government has 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.
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.