News Express: Privacy Initiative Proposed for November 2018 Ballot
Monday, November 13, 2017
November 13, 2017
A ballot initiative entitled the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 has been filed with the Secretary of State. Title companies could be impacted because the initiative applies to any business that has gross revenues exceeding $25 million, or that buys, receives, sells, or shares the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers for commercial purposes.
Under the initiative, a consumer could request that a business disclose what categories of personal data it compiles, and prevent the sale or sharing for commercial purposes of any of the consumer’s information. The ability to prevent the disclosure of the information is referred to as an “opt-out.” Businesses must maintain two or more methods for allowing the consumer to request information. At a minimum the methods must include a toll-free number and a website address. Businesses would have 45 days to respond to the consumer’s request.
Although publicly available information from state, federal or local government records is not considered personal information, personal information does include social security numbers. Identification information in notary journals would also be considered personal information. Private information includes information gathered in a Statement of Identity (also known as a Statement of Information) such as date of birth, social security number and previous addresses. This information is helpful for use in excluding potential exceptions found in a title search but is not derived from public records maintained by the local recorder.
Furthermore, the initiative expands the concept of personal information to inferences derived from information. A question might arise for instance as to whether a record of property ownership derived from public documents might be inferred to be a home address, and thus private consumer information. If the initiative were to become law title companies might have to reconsider what marketing information can be provided to third parties.
Enforcement under the initiative would fall either to consumers, or public entities such as the Attorney General, district attorneys or county counsel. Remedies are set at the greater of actual damages or $1,000 per violation. Remedies increase in the case of willful violations. There are also whistleblower enforcement provisions.
The L.A. Times reported that the proposed ballot initiative, led by Mary Ross, president of Californians for Consumer Privacy, comes several months after President Trump signed into law a repeal of privacy regulations limiting what broadband providers can do with customer data.