Data International Rescue Part 1: Understanding California Privacy Law (and how to comply!)

Dec 12, 2023
5 mins read
California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

As individuals and organisations alike grapple with the challenges of safeguarding sensitive information, governments around the world have introduced laws to protect citizens' privacy and data. California - home to Silicon Valley and a tech-driven economy - has been at the forefront of data privacy discussions, alongside the EU’s pioneering General Data Protection Regulation.

The Californian privacy law, including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and its successor, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), have set the bar for data protection standards. In this blog post, we will explore the fundamental aspects of Californian privacy law and we’ll look at how US businesses can integrate technologies like SimSage, to ensure they comply.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The CCPA, enacted in 2018, marked a significant step forward in US data protection legislation. It aimed to provide Californian residents with greater control over their personal information. Key provisions of the CCPA include:

Data Access and Deletion Rights: Consumers have the right to request access to their personal information held by businesses and the right to have it deleted.

Disclosure of Data Collection: Companies are required to disclose (through what is called a ‘notice at collection’) what personal information they collect and how it will be used.

Opt-Out Rights: Businesses must allow consumers to opt out of the sale of their personal data.

Non-Discrimination: Companies cannot discriminate against consumers for exercising their privacy rights.

Data Security and Accountability: Businesses are required to implement reasonable security measures and are accountable for safeguarding consumer data.

The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA)

The CPRA, passed in November 2020 and set to take full effect in March 2024, builds on the CCPA and further strengthens data privacy protections and brings it closer to the GDPR. Some key elements of the CPRA include:

Sensitive Personal Information: The CPRA introduces a new category of data called "sensitive personal information," which includes data like social security numbers, passport numbers, biometric data, and more, subject to stricter protections.

Data Minimization: Businesses are required to collect only the data necessary for the purpose for which it was collected.

Right to Correct Inaccurate Information: Consumers have the right to correct inaccurate personal information.

Contractual Obligations: The CPRA imposes obligations on service providers to ensure that data processing agreements are in place to protect consumer data.

Independent Agency: The CPRA establishes the California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA), a dedicated regulatory authority responsible for enforcing the law.

Key themes of California’s approach to data protection

Consumer-Centric: The laws place the interests and rights of consumers at the forefront, empowering them with control over their personal information. As a business, you can embrace this approach and empower your organisation with clarity, understanding and control over your data - which in turn enables you to respond to your customers’ data requests quickly and efficiently.

An intelligent information management platform with robust auditing, search and automation tools will give you the power to handle data queries and requests with speed and precision.

Transparency: Businesses must be transparent about data practices, making it clear what information is collected and how it will be used.

Create clear, robust policies around data collection, usage and retention and communicate them clearly internally  to ensure your workforce understands and abides by them. By utilising a good automated workflow system, you can ensure data is handled in line with your policies and that you have a digital record of all processes.

Accountability: Companies are held accountable for securing data and complying with privacy regulations. Anyone who is responsible for processing data in your organisation should understand the relevant regulations, in this case the CCPA and the CPRA and be competent in enacting them.

Human error is unavoidable however, and many organisations will find themselves faced with an instance of non-compliance, such as a data-breach. In these circumstances, you need to provide a full-picture of data that has been compromised, quickly. Sophisticated categorisation and search technology like SimSage can help you locate all compromised data, and report it to the relevant authority without delay.

Data Minimisation: The emphasis on data minimisation encourages organisations to collect only what is necessary, and to keep it only as long as it is needed, reducing the risk of misuse.

Having complete clarity over your entire data asset estate will help you to understand what data your organisation currently collects and to adjust these processes where necessary. SimSage Audit executes a deep dive into your information system/s, revealing duplicate information, the age of documents and the nature of data, empowering you to act upon the results.


Californian privacy laws, exemplified by the CCPA and the CPRA, have set a new standard for data protection in the United States. By emphasising transparency, consumer rights, and accountability, these laws aim to strike a balance between protecting personal information and allowing businesses to thrive.

As privacy concerns continue to evolve globally and especially in tech-led societies like California, privacy laws like the CCPA and CPRA are set to trailblaze data protection regulations across the US, with states such as Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia all having privacy regulation either being enforced or coming into enforcement in the near future. Businesses operating in California, along with these other states (and beyond), must adapt to these regulations, prioritise data protection and utilise sophisticated tech solutions to ensure compliance.