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California Attorney General Fiddles While Rome Burns

Written by: Richard Sheinis, Esq. 

On March 17 a coalition of 35 advertising groups sent California Attorney General Xavier Becerra a letter calling for a delay in the enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) because of COVID-19.  Enforcement of the CCPA is currently scheduled to begin July 1.  The Attorney General’s office refused the call for a delay, stating, “Right now, we’re committed to enforcing the law upon finalizing the rules or July 1, whichever comes first.  We’re all mindful of the new reality created by COVID-19 and the heightened value of protecting consumers’ privacy online that comes with it.  We encourage businesses to be particularly mindful of data security in this time of emergency.”

I am not one to hide my opinion so I will tell you the Attorney General’s position is ridiculous and  is oblivious of the conditions facing businesses to which the CCPA would apply.  Let’s add a little perspective to the situation.  The Attorney General was tasked with adopting regulations for the CCPA.  The regulations were first published on October 10.  Since they did not get it right the first time, the Regulations were revised on February  7.  Having failed to get it right the second time, the Attorney General again revised the regulations on March 10.

Contrary to the Attorney General’s statement that “We’re mindful of the new reality created by COVD-19”, they clearly are not.  If they were aware of the “new reality” they would know that thousands of businesses are just trying to stay afloat.  Millions of workers have filed for unemployment.  Thousands of people who still have jobs have seen their salaries reduced.  Those that are working, are working from home and staying home, not because they want to, but because our government has told them to.  Revenues have dried up and resources are stretched as thin as an onion skin.  In the midst of this grim economic picture, the Attorney General is telling businesses to devote substantial resources to comply with an Act and Regulations that have been revised twice, with the most recent revision having been just 2 weeks ago.  So instead of businesses staying afloat and paying employees, the Attorney General would rather see businesses use their limited resources for regulatory compliance.

Mr. Attorney General, get out of your government ivory tower, get a dose of the real “new reality”, and do the right thing.