To protect internet users from the unregulated collection and usage of personal information, lawmakers passed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. This California law mimics the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, used to establish uniform data privacy laws across the entire expanse of Europe. Both laws aim to improve internet privacy by forcing companies that collect data, such as Google and Facebook, to disclose their practices in full and allow individuals to opt out of the sale of their personal information.
Consumer Protection at the Heart of the Law
Prior to the establishment of GDPR laws, companies could collect and sell consumer data unchecked by any regulatory body. As consumers suffered losses and other repercussions from the data collection and sharing activities, outrage triggered the creation of laws to help protect the privacy of internet users. The unanimous passing of this bill in California rides the coattails of the success in Europe and shows a dire need for this level of privacy protection.
Potential for GDPR Laws to Spread
As California sets a clear precedent in the control of consumer data collection and sales, other states will likely follow suit, including Texas. Citizens across the United States have expressed interest in internet privacy laws to support their right to control their personal information, making it only a matter of time until more GDPR bills land in front of the U.S. Congress.
Businesses inside the United States will need to comply with the GDPR requirements while collecting data from internet users across Europe, California and other areas to follow. As more companies shift their operations to remain in compliance, implementation of this common-sense privacy protection law will undoubtedly spread.
Impact on Businesses Across the U.S.
Companies that collect data will need to comply with these new GDPR laws as of now for residents of Europe and by 2020 in order for California residents to avoid heavy fines of up to 4% of annual revenues. As more and more states add this law to their books, companies will need to implement a widespread GDPR strategy to stay ahead of the regulations and prevent costly missteps along the way.
Businesses revolving around offering a free service in exchange for the collection and sales of personal information will likely struggle if internet users choose to opt out en masse. Companies will need to alter their operational strategy to stay in compliance, but the internet browsing experience, as a whole, will not change.
Challenges to the California Data Law
The California data law came under fire by tech companies, like Amazon, who make a bulk of their revenues from the collection and sale of consumers’ private information. These companies spent millions trying to oppose the bill and force it to die in Congress, but it passed both chambers with unanimous votes.
As Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law, he granted California residents the ability to control the sharing of their data by companies small and large. The passing of the bill as an amendment, rather than a ballot initiative, does open the door for relatively easy changes by opponents. Lobbyists are already working hard to change the amendment to best suit their operations and allow for profits from data sales.
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