In 1972, California voters amended the California Constitution to include the right of privacy among the “inalienable” rights of all people. The amendment established a legal and enforceable right of privacy for every Californian. Fundamental to this right of privacy is the ability of individuals to control the use, including the sale, of their personal information.
Since California voters approved the right of privacy, the California Legislature has adopted specific mechanisms to safeguard Californians’ privacy, including the Online Privacy Protection Act, the Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World Act, and Shine the Light, a California law intended to give Californians the ‘who, what, where, and when’ of how businesses handle consumers' personal information.
At the same time, California is one of the world’s leaders in the development of new technologies and related industries. Yet the proliferation of personal information has limited Californians’ ability to properly protect and safeguard their privacy. It is almost impossible to apply for a job, raise a child, drive a car, or make an appointment without sharing personal information.
As the role of technology and data in the every daily lives of consumers increases, there is an increase in the amount of personal information shared by consumers with businesses. California law has not kept pace with these developments and the personal privacy implications surrounding the collection, use, and protection of personal information.
Many businesses collect personal information from California consumers. They may know where a consumer lives and how many children a consumer has, how fast a consumer drives, a consumer’s personality, sleep habits, biometric and health information, financial information, precise geolocation information, and social networks, to name a few categories.
The unauthorized disclosure of personal information and the loss of privacy can have devastating effects for individuals, ranging from financial fraud, identity theft, and unnecessary costs to personal time and finances, to destruction of property, harassment, reputational damage, emotional stress, and even potential physical harm.
In March 2018, it came to light that tens of millions of people had their personal data misused by a data mining firm called Cambridge Analytica. A series of congressional hearings highlighted that our personal information may be vulnerable to misuse when shared on the Internet. As a result, our desire for privacy controls and transparency in data practices is heightened.
People desire privacy and more control over their information. California consumers should be able to exercise control over their personal information, and they want to be certain that there are safeguards against misuse of their personal information. It is possible for businesses both to respect consumers’ privacy and provide a high level transparency to their business practices.
Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to further Californians’ right to privacy by giving consumers an effective way to control their personal information, by ensuring the following rights:
The right of Californians to know what personal information is being collected about them.
The right of Californians to know whether their personal information is sold or disclosed and to whom.
The right of Californians to say no to the sale of personal information.
The right of Californians to access their personal information.
The right of Californians to equal service and price, even if they exercise their privacy rights.