Advertisers Ask California to Delay Enforcement for Data Privacy Law

Various advertising companies joined together to ask for a delay in the enforcement of California’s data privacy claiming additional time is needed as they are dealing with COVID-19 changes and impacts. They claim the current health crisis is hindering their ability to develop processes for compliance with the law and they need more time to implement the final California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requirements.

CCPA was passed in 2018 and gives consumers the right to access and delete any of their own personal information that has been collected by businesses. Although the law went into effect at the start of this year, enforcement is not scheduled to begin until July 1, 2020.

A letter signed by trade associations, companies and organizations, chosen to represent a cross-section of the business community, was sent to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on March 17, 2020. “The public health crisis brought on by COVID-19 juxtaposed with the quickly approaching enforcement date for the CCPA places business leaders in a difficult position. They are forced to consider tradeoffs between decisions that are best for their employees and the world-at-large and decisions that may help the organizations they lead avoid costly and resource intensive enforcement actions,” the letter says.

An advisor to Becerra reportedly said the Attorney General has no plans to delay the enforcement once the rules are finalized. “Right now, we’re committed to enforcing the law upon finalizing the rules or July 1, whichever comes first,” the advisor said. “We’re all mindful of the new reality created by COVID-19 and the heightened value of protecting consumers’ privacy online that comes with it. We encourage businesses to be particularly mindful of data security in this time of emergency.”

The letter says the companies support the purpose and goals of CCPA, but are concerned businesses will not be able to bring their systems in compliance by July. “We therefore respectfully request that you forbear from enforcing the CCPA until January 2, 2021 so businesses are able to build processes that are in line with the final regulations before they may be subject to enforcement actions for allegedly violating the law’s terms,” the businesses wrote.

They claim deferring enforcement will relieve pressures on organizations, specifically the additional pressures caused by COVID-19, and allow them to prioritize the health of their employees. They say work-from-home requirements have left employees unable to build or test new systems at the site. The final rules are still in the process of being finalized and currently have some obligations not in the legal text, which the businesses claim makes preparation more complicated. “Businesses should have a reasonable period of time to understand and implement the final regulations before being subject to enforcement,” the letter says.

An additional letter was sent to the Attorney General a few days later on March 20th with even more companies adding signatures, including media and entertainment businesses, giving support for delayed enforcement of the CCPA. “This short forbearance will allow businesses to absorb the shock to the system presented by the current health crisis and will give businesses the time they need to understand and effectively operationalize the rules helping ensure consumers have consistent access to the rights afforded under the new law,” the letter states.