Understanding the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): Part One

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In 2020, California Consumers will be granted new online privacy protections under a first-of-its-kind California law.

A sweeping new privacy law — the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) is the nation’s toughest privacy law and could serve as a model for other states. The bill came to a vote in both houses on June 28, 2018. The assembly voted 69-0 to approve it shortly after the Senate approved it 36-0 , and was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown the same day.

The CCPA imposes substantial new obligations on businesses that collect, process, and disclose the data of California resident. The CCPA was drafted, voted on, and enacted in a matter of days, but it will not go into effect for another 18 months, on January 1, 2020. This law ushers in widespread changes to California’s law on the information practices for covered businesses collecting, processing, and disclosing information gathered from or about California consumers or their devices.


In early 2018 a California real estate developer spearheaded an effort to include a new privacy law — the Consumer Right to Privacy Act of 2018 — on the November 2018 California ballot. By June 2018, supporters of the initiative had gathered enough signatures to earn a place on the November ballot.

Carrot and a Smaller Stick

Since the ballot initiative was more restrictive to businesses, California legislators, working with representatives of affected California businesses and other interest groups, quickly negotiated and passed a substitute bill — the CCPA — in exchange for an agreement to drop the more restrictive text in the Consumer Right to Privacy Act from the November ballot And who says government can’t get things done quickly?

So Goes California So Goes the Rest of the Nation

Technology companies, many of which are headquartered in California, will likely implement the law in the rest of the country. Privacy advocates are already gearing up to press for similar legislation in other states. “This law in California, like so many laws, is going to raise the bar for consumers everywhere,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG.

“This is a huge step forward to people all across the country dealing with this very challenging issue,” State Senator Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat and a co-author of the bill, said at a press conference Thursday.

Final Considerations

While it is very likely that there will be changes prior to the January 2020 effective date, and in light of the very long lead time required to adapt business plans and practices to this new rights regime, companies should immediately begin a preliminary assessment of how CCPA may impact them, even as the ink begins to dry on this newly-enacted legislation.