California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)

In this guide:

Core tenets of the CalOPPA

The CalOPPA went into effect in 2004 and was the first state law in the United States to require a privacy policy be posted by commercial websites and online services. Because it applies to “any person or company whose website collects personally identifiable information (PII) from California consumers” no matter their location, CalOPPA marked the first step towards providing US consumers with legal data privacy rights and the ability to safeguard their personal information. It was a significant legislative stride towards ensuring transparency, security and accountability in the realm of online data collection and usage. A 2013 amendment to the bill extended coverage to include mobile applications.

Even more recently, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) significantly expanded data privacy rights. CalOPPA empowers users and encourages a digital ecosystem rooted in trust and responsible data stewardship, while the CCPA and CPRA progress this goal a step further.

Specific protections for consumers under CalOPPA include:

  • The ability to easily find and review a company’s privacy policy on their website or app.
  • Information about how you, the consumer, can request to review and make changes to your collected data.
  • The introduction of informed consent, which means you should be prompted before data is collected and allowed the opportunity to opt out.

Embracing user consent as a foundational principle is critical, and the CalOPPA first established this in the United States. Obtaining explicit consent from users before collecting their data fosters a relationship built on trust and empowers consumers to engage with platforms knowing all the facts about how data is being used, which is now mandatory for many businesses as outlined in the CCPA and CPRA.

Source: Consumer Federation of California Website

How to ensure compliance

CalOPPA places significant responsibility on businesses that engage in online data collection. The Act applies not only to companies based in California but also to any entity that collects personal information from California residents. As such, its impact is far-reaching, spanning industries and geographical boundaries.

Businesses subject to CalOPPA are required to draft a comprehensive privacy policy, detailing their data collection practices and usage. This policy must outline the types of data gathered, the intended purposes for its use, the sharing practices with partners and affiliates, and the measures in place to guard this information. Importantly, the policy must be readily accessible to users.

For businesses looking to comply with CalOPPA, a privacy policy should be easy to find on the company website must include the following information:

  • A summary of the types of personal data collected through the website or app.
  • Any associated partners or affiliates with which this personal data is being shared, or any third parties collecting personal data directly through the website or app.
  • Clear details about how a specific user could request changes to the personal data held on record.
  • Details about how the business will inform users of future changes to the privacy policy.
  • A date tag marking the latest update.
  • How the business site addresses “Do Not Track (DNT)” requests from users.

Violating any of these CalOPPA provisions comes with a fine up to $2,500 per violation, which can add up fast and equate to a massive expense if noncompliance is widespread across hundreds or thousands of users.

CalOPPA has broader implications for online advertising and tracking practices as well. Businesses engaged in behavioral tracking or targeted advertising must inform users about their practices and provide mechanisms for opting out, or face penalties. This provision aligns with the Act’s overarching goal of granting consumers greater agency over their online experiences.

What Privacy Bee does to help

If you’re a consumer looking to take control of your personal data by monitoring and deleting your information from the thousands of websites where it lives today, Privacy Bee can expedite this process and ensure you’ve found every location where your most sensitive data lives across the internet and dark web.

Although the CalOPPA and other more recent regulations help you avoid unknowingly sharing information in the first place, Data Brokers and People Search Sites have created a billion dollar industry by collecting, processing and selling consumers’ personal data. And it’s still on the individual to find, review and request data removal. You can do it on your own and Privacy Bee is happy to help, but know this process is incredibly time consuming and takes in-depth knowledge of your legal rights and business obligations in order to compel action. That said, it’s the single best way to close the data protection gap and reduce your risk of identity theft.

For businesses, Privacy Bee can help you establish the privacy and cookie policies necessary to remain compliant while building customer trust and loyalty. You get executive-level protection to keep the C-suite off the map (in some cases literally by blurring your home on Google and Apple Maps!) along with the employee and customer protection needed to proactively mitigate the risk of a data breach. Privacy Bee is the all-in-one External Data Privacy service to differentiate your organization from those suffering expensive, brand-damaging breaches.

Privacy Bee’s protective umbrella extends over a wide range of potential threats, including:

  • Phishing
  • Telemarketing calls
  • Cyberstalking
  • Swatting
  • Doxxing
  • Blackmail
  • Identity theft
  • Spam
  • Data breaches

Regardless of whether you’re an individual actively implementing precautionary steps to protect yourself and your family, or a business dedicated to ensuring the safety of both your staff and clients, Privacy Bee provides you with the tools to take control of your confidential information. In an era where shielding your personal data has become imperative, Privacy Bee emerges as your unwavering ally in this continuous endeavor to safeguard your identity and your organizational reputation.

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