How to assert your rights under California's new privacy law

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Saturday, December 28, 2019
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The California Consumer Privacy Act gives you three new basic rights -- here's what you need to know when they go into effect on January 1, 2020.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A first-in-the-nation law will go into effect in California on January 1, 2020, giving you greater privacy when using social media.

First, this is an opt-in law. That means if you want to take advantage of the change, you'll need to do a little work.

To make that as easy as possible, 7 On Your Side will walk you through it. But it's what we won't be able to show you that is raising a few eyebrows.

The new law is called the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA. It gives you three basic rights.

  • The right to know what information is being collected about you.
  • The right to delete any information collected about you.
  • The right to ban a business from selling your information to third parties.

"A lot of people are really frustrated with the way companies can collect and use their information, and how they don't understand where that information goes and who else gets to see it," said Hayley Tsukayama with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. "So this is really important in terms of providing some light in that really opaque system."

Privacy rights advocates say information about our financial stability, insurability, political affiliation, sexual orientation and about our families are being collected and stored.

Emory Roane of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse say some have more to lose than others. "If you are... in an abusive family... if you are a gay teenager, in a family not accepting of that, there are many people that can be, that are at higher risk if their information is exposed," she said.

So just how do you find what information is being stored about you? Most of it is buried in the fine print under the companies' privacy policies.

But to make it easier, we did the homework for you and contacted Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Here are the links to find information on requesting copies of your data, how to download your own data, clear your data, and if you choose, delete your account.

  • Apple, then click on "Data and Privacy: Manage your data and privacy"
  • Google, then click on "Manage your Google account"

Here's what we can't show you: how to request that these companies stop selling your data.

Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft all maintain they do not sell your data.

Some consumer advocates disagree.

We contacted the State Attorney General's office to see what they think.

That office is responsible for enforcing the Privacy Act. The law takes effect January 1, but enforcement will not begin until six months later.

The Attorney General's office told us it could not weigh in while it finalizes the regulations, but vowed to ensure compliance starting in July.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.