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Consumer Reports calls on California Attorney General to uphold CCPA enforcement despite industry efforts to push back during the COVID-19 crisis

San Francisco, CA — Consumers Reports today called on the California Attorney General (AG) to reject industry efforts to avoid compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in light of the COVID-19 crisis, despite having over a year to prepare. Dozens of trade associations have asked the AG to delay enforcement of the landmark online privacy law until next year. This latest effort to avoid complying with the CCPA comes as more and more consumers increasingly rely on online communications to work, stay in communication with healthcare professionals, and obtain access to necessary supplies.

The CCPA, a first-in-the-nation privacy law that gives consumers the right of access, delete, and stop the sale of their personal information, went into effect on January 1, 2020. CCPA enforcement is set to begin once the AG finalizes proposed rules to implement the measure, but no later than July 1, 2020.

Justin Brookman, Consumer Reports’ Director of Privacy and Technology Policy, said: “It is more critical than ever for policymakers to ensure fairness, safety, and transparency for consumers in the marketplace. The law has been in effect for over three months. This is a cynical attempt by industry to avoid honoring California consumers’ constitutional right to privacy, and industry shouldn’t exploit the health crisis to ignore consumer requests to companies to stop selling their data. We hope the Attorney General does the right thing and begins enforcement as scheduled.”

Maureen Mahoney, a policy analyst at Consumer Reports, said: “Tech companies have been avoiding regulation for years, and the CCPA provides long-overdue baseline privacy protections. Now that more consumers are working from home and relying on tech companies for crucial communications, the Attorney General needs to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place. Consumers shouldn’t have to give up their constitutional rights to engage in essential activities.”

Last year, industry supported a raft of bills to gut the CCPA, but the worst bills failed to advance. Lawmakers also held the line against a last-minute wave of lobbying from industry groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association, which sought to introduce amendments to exempt additional consumer information from the law.

Though the CCPA went into effect in January, many companies have avoided complying with the law. In late January, advertising groups also called on the AG to delay the effective date of the CCPA until January 2021. 

The California Attorney General has limited resources to protect the privacy of 40 million Californians. The AG announced that his office will prosecute only flagrant violations of the CCPA. Earlier, the AG’s office noted that they only have the enforcement capabilities to bring a few cases per year.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Consumer Reports has urged policymakers to protect personal safety and security in light of the crisis, has called on Google to limit data collected through the new coronavirus screening service offered by its subsidiary, Verily, and offered resources to consumers seeking to stay safe.

Contact: Cyrus Rasool, cyrus.rassool@consumer.org