The people of the State of California hereby find and declare all of the following:
A. In 1972, California voters amended the California Constitution to include the right of privacy among the “inalienable” rights of all people. Voters acted in response to the accelerating encroachment on personal freedom and security caused by increased data collection and usage in contemporary society. The amendment established a legal and enforceable constitutional 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.
B. Since California voters approved the constitutional 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, but consumers had no right to learn what personal information a business had collected about them and how they used it or to direct businesses not to sell the consumer’s personal information.
C. That changed in 2018, when more than 629,000 California voters signed petitions to qualify the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 for the ballot. In response to the measure’s qualification, the Legislature enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) into law. The CCPA gives California consumers the right to learn what information a business has collected about them, to delete their personal information, to stop businesses from selling their personal information, including using it to target them with ads that follow them as they browse the internet from one website to another, and to hold businesses accountable if they do not take reasonable steps to safeguard their personal information.
D. Even before the CCPA had gone into effect, the Legislature considered many bills in 2019 to amend the law, some of which would have significantly weakened it. Unless California voters take action, the hard-fought rights consumers have won could be undermined by future legislation.
E. Rather than diluting privacy rights, California should strengthen them over time. Many businesses collect and use consumers’ personal information, sometimes without consumers’ knowledge regarding the business’ use and retention of their personal information. In practice, consumers are often entering into a form of contractual arrangement in which, while they do not pay money for a good or service, they exchange access to that good or service in return for access to their attention or access to their personal information. Because the value of the personal information they are exchanging for the good or service is often opaque, depending on the practices of the business, consumers often have no good way to value the transaction. In addition, the terms of agreement or policies in which the arrangements are spelled out, are often complex and unclear, and as a result, most consumers never have the time to read or understand them.
F. This asymmetry of information makes it difficult for consumers to understand what they are exchanging and therefore to negotiate effectively with businesses. Unlike in other areas of the economy where consumers can comparison shop, or can understand at a glance if a good or service is expensive or affordable, it is hard for the consumer to know how much the consumer’s information is worth to any given business when data use practices vary so widely between businesses.
H. Consumers need stronger laws to place them on a more equal footing when negotiating with businesses in order to protect their rights. Consumers should be entitled to a clear explanation of the uses of their personal information, including how it is used for advertising, and to control, correct, or delete it, including by allowing consumers to limit businesses’ use of their sensitive personal information to help guard against identity theft, to opt-out of the sale and sharing of their personal information, and to request that businesses correct inaccurate information about them.
I. California is the world leader in many new technologies that have reshaped our society. The world today is unimaginable without the internet, one of the most momentous inventions in human history, and the new services and businesses that arose on top of it, many of which were invented here in California. One of the most successful business models for the internet has been services that rely on advertising to make money as opposed to charging consumers a fee. Advertising-supported services have existed for generations and can be a great model for consumers and businesses alike. However, some advertising businesses today use technologies and tools that are opaque to consumers to collect and trade vast amounts of personal information, to track them across the internet, and to create detailed profiles of their individual interests. Some companies that do not charge consumers a fee, subsidize these services by monetizing consumers’ personal information. Consumers should have the information and tools necessary to limit the use of their information to noninvasive proprivacy advertising, where their personal information is not sold to or shared with hundreds of businesses they’ve never heard of, if they choose to do so. Absent these tools, it will be virtually impossible for consumers to fully understand these contracts they are essentially entering into when they interact with various businesses.
J. Children are particularly vulnerable from a negotiating perspective with respect to their privacy rights. Parents should be able to control what information is collected and sold or shared about their young children and should be given the right to demand that companies erase information collected about their children.
K. Business should also be held directly accountable to consumers for data security breaches and notify consumers when their most sensitive information has been compromised.
L. An independent watchdog whose mission is to protect consumer privacy should ensure that businesses and consumers are well-informed about their rights and obligations and should vigorously enforce the law against businesses that violate consumers’ privacy rights.