Stories

California's new privacy law is here

Illustration of a woman with her face and shopping bags pixellated
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Starting today, Californians can find out what data certain companies have collected about them, and even ask for it to be deleted, under the new California Consumer Privacy Act.

Why it matters: The law covers residents of the most populous state, but it also has national repercussions. Some companies like Microsoft have already said they'll be extending the practices required under the law to all their customers and users. And other states tend to follow California when it introduces firm rules that don't exist on the federal level.

The law applies to any company that has California-based customers and meets any one of these criteria:

  • Has at least $25 million in annual gross revenue
  • Has personal information on at least 50,000 people, households or devices
  • Earns at least half its money selling California consumers' personal information

How it works: The California attorney general is in charge of enforcing the law against companies that break it, though AG Xavier Becerra's office is expected to only have the resources to handle a limited number of cases per year.

  • Companies can't discriminate against consumers who opt out of data collection and must still provide them with free services (though they may be modified from the fully fledged versions offered to people who hand over their data).

What's next: The sprint to July 1. That's the deadline for the AG's office to finalize regulations laying out exactly what companies need to do to stay in compliance with the law.

  • Some businesses hope those regulations will settle questions around parts of the law they say are ambiguous, such as a provision that lets consumers block their data from being sold, the New York Times notes.
  • Also starting in July, Californians will be allowed to sue businesses for certain data breaches, and the California AG will be able to start bringing enforcement actions.
  • Californians may also get to vote in November on a ballot initiative that would expand these privacy rights.

Learn more about what some companies know about you:

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Editor's note: This post has been clarified to better reflect which companies must comply with the law.