Do your customers know what kinds of consumer data you collect and how you use it? If consumers wanted to find the answer, how easily could your company provide it? If consumers demand that you delete their data from your systems, could you quickly do that?

Businesses are grappling with those questions as the Jan. 1 deadline to comply with the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) approaches. CCPA creates safeguards to protect the personal data of California consumers and employees. For example, it significantly broadens the definition of what constitutes “personal data.” Similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards enacted by the European Union in 2018,

CCPA will require organizations to be transparent about how they collect, share and use consumer data. By Jan. 1, companies covered by the act must notify consumers at or before the time they collect data about them. Businesses must also create at least two methods for consumers to submit a request to opt out, including a toll-free telephone number and—for companies that operate websites—an interactive web form. Consumers also gain a right to non-discrimination in terms of price or service when they exercise their privacy rights under CCPA. However, a business can offer consumers different rates (or better service) if that difference is reasonably related to the value of the consumer’s data.

CCPA is likely to affect how retailers deal with consumers, manage data and market themselves. Analysts, retailers and others stress the launch of CCPA rules is only the beginning of what could be numerous changes to data privacy rules in the United States. Other states and countries are widely expected to follow California’s lead. And the passage of a federal data privacy mandate—which has been elusive so far despite strong advocacy from internet companies and trade associations—is likely to happen at some point, they say.

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