California Plans to Protect Consumer Privacy with Delete Act

California lawmakers have put data brokers on notice. A bill known as the Delete Act would allow consumers to require all such information peddlers to delete their personal information with a single request. The bill defines “data brokers” as any number of businesses that collect and sell people’s personal information, including residential address, marital status and purchases. Both houses last week passed the proposed legislation — Senate Bill 362 — and it now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk. If he signs it, the new law will go into effect in January 2026.

“Roughly 500 data brokers are registered in California,” among them companies that fall under the headings of “credit reporting agencies, people-search sites and data analytic firms that work with political campaigns,” writes Los Angeles Times, noting that the Delete Act would remedy that inconvenience of having to contact each firm individually.

“Currently, it’s not always clear what information consumer data companies have or share,” writes Los Angeles Times, noting “businesses also might deny deletion requests or not respond,” making it difficult for consumers to follow-through. Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) has characterized the new bill as protecting sensitive information, “including about reproductive health care and geolocation.”

Not everyone is pleased about the bill. Some businesses, including those built around advertising, have lobbied against the proposed legislation, saying it will threaten California’s “data-driven economy.”

Consumer Data Industry Association President and CEO Dan Smith issued a statement saying the bill could have “unintended consequences” and thwart the activities of credit bureaus and background-check companies as well disproportionately hurt small businesses and solidify “big platforms’ data dominance.”

“Data brokers might not always collect data directly from the consumer, creating a loophole in California’s privacy law,” Los Angeles Times reports, noting that beginning in August 2026, data brokers would be required by law to delete all of the personal information covered by the bill’s language “at least once every 45 days” and “would also be barred from selling or sharing new personal data.”

If the Delete Act becomes law, it “could potentially extend well beyond state lines given California’s history of setting similar trends,” explains Fortune, noting that data brokers “say they get a bad rap” for doing the same thing companies like Google and Meta Platforms do, though they mainly use the information for their own gain as opposed to being limited to a middleman role.

California’s Delete Act Raises Concerns Over Motivations, Adweek, 9/15/23
California’s Delete Act Protects Us from Data Brokers, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 8/8/23

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