Northern California Record

Monday, September 16, 2019

Consumer Privacy Act could open door to 'shakedown' lawsuits, civil justice reform group says

Legislation

By John Suayan | Aug 27, 2019


SACRAMENTO – The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) believes that legislation requiring companies to inform consumers what data they collect would create an opportunity for frivolous litigation.

Kyla Christoffersen Powell, president and CEO of the CJAC, said that the California Consumer Privacy Act as written lacks clear compliance standards.

“[It makes it] easy for trial lawyers to take advantage of confusion with frivolous lawsuits,” Powell said. “CJAC, along with a large business community coalition, has been supporting a number of bills this year that would clarify CCPA. Unfortunately, a number of these bills have been stopped or significantly watered down with amendments.”

Assembly Bill 25, introduced by state Rep. Ed Chau (D-District 49), “clarifies that certain applicant and employee information is not subject to CCPA so that businesses can continue their regular human resources functions,” Powell said.

She added that due to opposition, AB 25 was recently amended to apply a one-year sunset to this fix, so the business community will have to come back next year to ask for an extension.

She also warned that “without stronger reforms that provide clarity and certainty for businesses, compliance with the CCPA is nearly impossible and turns businesses into easy targets for shakedown lawsuits.”

The CCPA, which was approved by the California legislature and then signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown on June 28, 2018, says that at consumers’ request, companies must delete their data, provide access to their information or stop selling it.

Proponents of the act, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, asserted that new laws that protect the privacy of consumers from intrusions of their personal data are necessary and are a good step in the right direction.

The CCPA was the subject of two dueling sets of proposed amendments. Pieces of legislation that would strengthen the act – introduced by state Rep. Buffy Wicks (D-District 15) and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-District 19) – did not garner approval in either the state Assembly or the state Senate.

According to an early August post on the California Chamber of Commerce’s Capital Insider blog, several bills intended to clean up the CCPA were thwarted, leaving uncertainty on compliance.

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Civil Justice Association of California

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