Our topic these last few posts has been the CCPA, which stands for the California Consumer Privacy Act. In previous weeks we touched on what the CCPA is all about, why it needs to be adhered to, and what the consequences are for not complying. To reiterate, the CCPA follows residents of California wherever they go on the web, and they have a right to refuse to give you their personal information without discrimination.
In this last post of the series, I’d like to talk about how the California Attorney General plays into all of this. The truth is the AG actually has a monetary incentive to prosecute companies that don’t follow the CCPA. For some background, in order to bring a private lawsuit to court you need to alert the Attorney General that you’re going to do it, and then the Attorney General has a certain number of days to decide if they’re going to sue instead of you.
If they choose not to, then you as a private citizen can go ahead with your lawsuit. And while the people who were harmed will still get money if the judge rules in their favor, the Attorney General will also get penalty money which can be used for additional enforcement actions. The promise of money makes the Attorney General a big threat if you do happen to get sued.
The CCPA does allow businesses to offer financial incentives, including payment of money directly to consumers, in exchange for collecting and selling their personal data. So, is it really the end of charge-free services, like I talked about in previous posts?
Let’s take Gmail for example. Suppose you have a Gmail account and they charge $10 a month for you to use it, but they also pay you $10 to collect and sell your data. These prices would obviously cancel each other out, meaning that the service is still essentially free.
So, is there really much to be concerned about? Maybe for consumers who want to opt-out but can’t afford to pay the fees, but that’s America for you.
In conclusion, there is still much about the CCPA that needs to be fixed and this may be accomplished in the California legislature. In the meantime, it’s still important to comply with the CCPA. If your company relies on the data of your customers, it’s time to start reviewing your business model to determine if it is sustainable as the CCPA comes into effect, and make the necessary adjustments as needed to avoid fines or lawsuits.