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Everything You Need to Know About California’s New Data Privacy Law

More state governments are determined to secure data privacy, including the Golden State, where the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) just became law.
By Jenna Tsui

From 3D printing to social media to autonomous driving, a lot has changed in the digital age, including the notion of privacy.

While many of these inventions make life easier and more connected, the downside is that our information is now everywhere. Unfortunately, criminals want it, too: In the first half of 2018 alone, hackers breached more than 4.5 billion personal data records around the world. Those data breaches not only wreak havoc for consumers, but they also pose huge risks for companies, from damaged brand reputation to increased cybersecurity costs.

More and more, people are wondering if businesses are actually able to protect them. Now, more state governments are taking action to help solve this issue.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect on Jan. 1. This is a data protection bill that works to assist consumers and businesses in communicating how data is managed. Before it becomes enforced on July 1, 2020, let's look at what this bill is and how it will have an impact on citizens and companies alike. 

What does the CCPA do?

It's true that improvements in cloud technology and cybersecurity are on the rise, but in this day and age, you can never be too careful. Many of us aren't sure where our data goes, why companies need it and what it's used for. This is a recipe for disaster, as we almost have no control over our own personal information. Thankfully, this is where the CCPA comes into play.

Essentially, this law helps consumers have more control over who has access to their information. Under the CCPA, before a business collects a customer's data, they must tell the customer how they'll use it. At any point in time, a person can put in a request to view their data and see where it was employed.

Consumers can ask that it be deleted and refuse its sale as well. This lets people take back the reins, and, at the same time, it allows companies to yield complete transparency. 

Will the CCPA affect me?

If you live or operate a business in California, yes. Even if your company is in another state but you sell to customers in California, the CCPA may still matter to you.

Does your business's gross revenue exceed $25 million? Do you receive, share or sell information from over 50,000 consumers? Does your organization earn half of its annual revenue from the sales of personal data? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the CCPA will have an impact on you and your business.

Keep in mind that the CCPA is one of the most comprehensive bills of its kind, so many states have looked to it as they draft their own data protection laws. While the CCPA may not affect you now, a similar law eventually will.

By educating yourself on this bill, you can prepare for whatever the future holds. 

How can I prepare?

There are a number of ways you can get started in anticipation of July 1. It's important to begin now, just in case you run into any snags along the way. Be sure to:

  • Review your current data collection process.

  • Create a way to easily fulfill consumer data requests.

  • Organize and classify all personal data.

  • To avoid penalties, set up methods to keep all data secure and encrypted.

Most importantly, you'll want to read through the bill to make sure you understand what's expected. Don't hesitate to hire consultants or other experts to help you along the way.

The CCPA benefits everyone

At first, the CCPA can seem like a lot to take on as a business. Remember that just as this assists consumers, it does the same for companies. When you make it a top priority to protect the interests of your customers, they'll keep coming back.

Review the CCPA today so you can determine whether it affects you and what you can do to abide.

Image credit: Robinraj Premchand/Pixabay

Jenna Tsui headshot

Jenna Tsui is a technology journalist who covers the latest news in technology, disruptive tech, and environmental science. You can read more of her work at The Byte Beat.

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