Over the last several months, California has passed several new privacy and data protection laws that impact operators of websites, online services and mobile applications around the country, including a law establishing an “Internet Eraser” for minors, and changes to the state’s data breach notification requirements. The latest bill, which amends the California Online Privacy Protection Act (“CalOPPA”), gives website operators until January 1, 2014 to update their privacy policies to disclose how they respond to “Do Not Track” mechanisms in web browsers. Are you ready for these new “Do Not Track” requirements?
What does the new law require?
Do the requirements apply to me?
The law applies to all companies that collect tracking information from California residents, and accordingly applies to companies that do business in California and track California residents, even if the company does have a physical presence in California.
Do I need to honor a user’s Do Not Track preferences?
Notably, California has not mandated that website and mobile application operators honor a user’s use of “Do Not Track” mechanisms – only that the user be provided with a disclosure about how the website will respond to such mechanism.
How can I comply?
Note: The deadline for compliance is January 1, 2014.
Failure to comply with the new requirements could result in fines of $2,500 per violation. With respect to mobile applications, the California Attorney General has indicated that each download of a mobile application that does not comply with the new requirements constitutes a violation and can trigger the fine.
Best Practices for Compliance
As part of updating its privacy policies to comply with the new Do Not Track requirements of CalOPPA, website owners and operators should undertake the following best practices:
- Identify the tracking mechanisms in place on its websites and online services, including (a) the specific types of personal information collected by the tracking mechanism and (b) whether users have the option to control whether and how the mechanisms are used and whether the operator will honor the user’s choice. The list should include the tracking mechanisms used by the operator itself, as well as any tracking mechanisms placed by third parties, including advertisers and analytics services.
- Identify any other mechanisms that collect personal information from users, including social media plug ins. While the changes to CalOPPA do not necessarily target these kinds of data collection mechanisms, operators should consider disclosing them to users in their privacy policies.
A full copy of Assembly Bill 370 is available here.