California Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Amendments to the CCPA

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At what has been described as a marathon hearing that lasted late into the night of July 9, the California Senate Judiciary Committee advanced several amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA”), but major changes that opponents claimed would have eroded privacy protections for consumers largely failed.  The bills advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee will now go to the Appropriations Committee, and if they pass, to a full Senate vote.

Among the more notable amendments that advanced was AB25.  A  more business-friendly version of AB25 passed in the Assembly in May, pursuant to which certain employment-related information would be excluded from the CCPA.  However, AB25 was modified while in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the version of AB25 that advanced from Committee requires employers to tell employees what type of information they are collecting and the reason for doing so.  The modification was made in an effort to “create a layer of transparency between employers and employees.”

Another amendment that advanced was AB1564.  The prior text of the bill removed a requirement that businesses provide a phone number for customers requesting access to their personal information.  Groups who opposed this amendment argued that it would make it harder for people without internet access to exercise their privacy rights.  The amended version of AB1564 that advanced restored the phone number requirement for stores that have a direct, in-person relationship with the customer.

Two hotly contested amendment bills did not advance—AB873 and AB1416.  AB873 would have changed the definition of “personal information” and “deidentified information” so that more private data falls outside the protection of the CCPA.  Supporters say that this amendment would make the CCPA workable for both small businesses and major corporations.  Critics say that the amendment would dramatically weaken the effect of the CCPA as a whole.  AB873 deadlocked in a 3-3 vote, meaning it failed to advance.  However, there has been a request for reconsideration.  AB1416 would have allowed businesses to sell personal data to third parties even after the consumer opted out if the sale was for the purpose of detecting security incidents or protecting against various types of malicious actors.  Groups that oppose AB1416 say that it would create a major loophole in the CCPA. The bill was dropped from this year’s legislative session, but it will likely re-emerge next year.

While the advanced bills may undergo more modifications, the Judiciary Committee changes serve as a reminder that companies should not bet on major changes to save them from the CCPA’s reach.  Indeed, the modifications to AB25 indicate that business-friendly amendments may need to be watered down to a degree in order to advance.  Accordingly, companies should be diligently preparing for the January 1, 2020 effective date of the CCPA.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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