California Legislature Makes Last Ditch Amendments to CCPA

The CCPA, which remains set to go into effect on January 1, 2020, was amended with no less than five Assembly bills last week. The amendments, covered below, are awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature, as is Assembly Bill 1202, which requires data brokers to register with the California Attorney General. The Governor has until October 13, 2019 to sign. These were passed as separate bills, so it is possible the Governor could accept some and reject others. However, given the dominance of Democrats in the legislature and governor’s office both, the Governor is expected to sign.

Change is always exciting, but perhaps the biggest news out of this round of amendments is that no additional amendments to the CCPA are expected before it goes into effect on January 1st. So, while I used to tell friends at cocktail parties that the CCPA could be delayed until the spring, I now tell them that life as they know it will end on New Year’s Day. Yeah, I don’t get invited to much anymore.

For the most part, I view these as positive changes. I’ve heard them described as “pro-business” amendments, which is fine. I see them more as effort to make the CCPA easier to understand, and a steering away from definitions that confuse more than clarify. A brief description of each pending bill is below.

Assembly Bill 25 exempts for a period of one year any “Personal information that is collected by a business about a natural person in the course of the natural person acting as a job applicant to, an employee of, owner of, director of, officer of, medical staff member of, or contractor of that business to the extent that the natural person’s personal information is collected and used by the business solely within the context of the natural person’s role or former role as a job applicant to, an employee of, owner of, director of, officer of, medical staff member of, or a contractor of that business.” According to the Assembly’s comments on the bill, “the one-year sunset provides the Legislature time to more broadly consider what privacy protections should apply in these particular employment-based contexts, and whether to repeal, revise, and/or make these exemptions permanent in whole or in part moving forward.”

Assembly Bill 1146 removes the right to opt out from vehicle information or ownership information retained or shared between a new motor vehicle dealer and the vehicle’s manufacturer, if the information is shared for the purpose of effectuating or in anticipation of effectuating a vehicle repair covered by a vehicle warranty or a recall, as specified. The bill would define terms for that purpose. The bill would also except from the right to request a business to delete personal information about the consumer the personal information that is necessary for the business to maintain in order to fulfill the terms of a written warranty or product recall conducted in accordance with federal law.

Assembly Bill 874 defines “publicly available” to mean information that is lawfully made available via government records. The bill also clarifies that personal information does not include deidentified or aggregate consumer information and that personal information includes information that is “reasonably capable” of being associated with a particular consumer or household, as opposed to “capable” of being associated. excludes deidentified or aggregate consumer information from the definition of “personal information.” This distinction is not so much a policy change, but a recognition that the CCPA as originally written was over inclusive of data that could in theory, possibly, maybe, someday, be used to identify an individual.

Assembly Bill 1202 requires data brokers to register with, and provide certain information to, the Attorney General. The bill would define a data broker as a business that knowingly collects and sells to third parties the personal information of a consumer with whom the business does not have a direct relationship, subject to specified exceptions. The bill would require the Attorney General to make the information provided by data brokers accessible on its website and would make data brokers that fail to register subject to injunction and liability for civil penalties, fees, and costs in an action brought by the Attorney General, with any recovery to be deposited in the Consumer Privacy Fund.

Assembly Bill 1355 refines the existing FCRA exemption to ensure it applies to any activity involving the collection, maintenance, disclosure, sale, communication, or use of any personal information regarding a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living by a consumer reporting agency to the extent such activity is subject to the FCRA with some exceptions. Second, the CCPA generally will not apply to business-to-business communications and transactions for a period of one year. Third, the CCPA does not require businesses to collect or retain information they would not collect in the ordinary course of business or retain it for longer than they would otherwise retain such information in the ordinary course of business. Fourth, data that is encrypted, or if it is redacted is not covered by the CCPA’s data breach protocol. Lastly, the Attorney General is given authority to promulgate regulations to effectuate certain aspects of the CCPA.

Assembly Bill 1564 provides that a business that operates exclusively online and has a direct relationship with a consumer from whom it collects personal information is only required to provide an email address for submitting requests for information required to be disclosed, as specified.

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