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Bill to expand lawsuits, reduce guidance for new consumer privacy law to have its first hearing

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s (D-Santa Barbara) SB 561 is set to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. SB 561 takes aim at the deal struck between business groups and privacy advocates last year when the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed by the legislature in an effort to keep a similar measure from being put before voters as an initiative measure.

The CCPA in its current form places many new requirements on businesses that collect and use consumers’ personal information, including giving consumers the right to request what information a business has about them, to require the business to delete their information, and to prohibit businesses from selling their personal information.

Part of the deal struck between business groups and privacy advocates last year was that in exchange for these broad new rights, enforcement of the law would be done by the Attorney General — rather than allowing lawsuits by individuals — except in the case of a data breach.

SB 561 would allow individuals to bring lawsuits if they believe that their rights under the CCPA have been violated, rather than relying on the Attorney General to enforce the law. While that change may sound innocuous on its face, the reality for businesses will be an explosion of costly individual and class-action lawsuits.

In addition to allowing a private right of action for violations of the CCPA, SB 561 would also remove a provision in the law that allows a business a 30-day period to cure an alleged violation of the CCPA before having an enforcement action brought against them, and would eliminate a requirement for the Attorney General to provide guidance on how to comply with the CCPA.

CNPA has joined a coalition of businesses that are opposing SB 561. In a letter opposing the bill, the coalition told the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee “[g]iven the massive investment businesses will be making to effectuate the rights provided to consumers in the CCPA, the state should be prepared to make a significant investment as well. And the goal of that investment should be compliance. Not lawsuits or attorney’s fees.”

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