Businesses need to be concerned with consumer protection and privacy rights. This is even more important now because new legislation in California called the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), impacts every business in the United States, of a certain size or type, which has a single business contact or customer in California.
Most businesses that have an online presence have customers or do business in California. The e-commerce market for customers from California is enormous. Fortune reports that California is the fifth-largest economy in the world and is larger than the economy of the UK.
The expectation is that many other states will follow the lead taken by California with the CCPA regulations by improving privacy rights with new legislation in their states as well.
How Important is Consumer Protection?
Forbes reports that the new consumer privacy act in California, which goes into effect on January 1, 2020, is changing the face of online business for nearly every company in the United States. These laws also impact the operations of companies from other parts of the world that have American customers.
Businesses that are not prepared for the new California laws, face significant financial risks for potential breaches. Data breaches in the past already cost many businesses dearly in fines and settlements.
Facebook is under attack for privacy violations under federal consumer protection laws. A breach of Facebook servers on the Amazon cloud exposed 540 million users’ personal information. DW reported that this resulted in $5 billion in fines for Facebook.
The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the Google settlement for the privacy rights violations that came from a data breach of the Google+ system. Google has to shut down Google+ over the data privacy leak.
Equifax exposed the confidential credit history and personal information of 147 million Americans. Capital One had the same troubles as Equifax with 103 million consumer account records. The settlement for damages for these breaches is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Pew Research Center discovered that the fall-out with consumers, caused by these huge fines and settlements, is that about half of American consumers do not trust companies with their personal information. American consumers think that many companies are doing worse with protecting confidential personal information than they were five years ago.
Consumer protection is a desperately needed regulatory effort because of the enormous amount of money being made with the valuable uses of the consumer data and the coinciding damages to consumers for misuse of their data. This information is bought, sold, and traded between companies at a hectic pace. Consumers are being tricked into giving up personal information by clicking through the disclosure screens or downloaded apps install screens to accept terms and conditions that hardly anyone ever reads.
This may be a lost cause to fight for privacy rights because they hardly exist. However, abuses and damages caused by the misuse of personal information are things that can be fought using new regulations. Avoiding extensive fines is a strong motivator for large companies that have significant risk exposure. These fines may be in the billions of dollars as the Facebook experience shows. These fines are even more damaging to smaller companies that cannot afford to pay them and the damages that they have to pay on top of the fines. […]