The Ultimate Guide To The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The Ultimate Guide To The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The digital revolution has made it common, sometimes even necessary, for consumers to share their names, addresses, email IDs, and more with businesses. In an increasingly interconnected environment, the need to protect personal information is becoming paramount. To address this concern, many countries have been developing compliance regulations that control data access for companies that require personally identifiable information (PII) for their operations. One of these compliance frameworks is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The guidelines under CCPA have been heralded as landmark legislations that have successfully set new data privacy and consumer rights standards. The CCPA has changed the landscape of data protection practices and spurred national conversations on privacy rules as one of the most comprehensive privacy laws in the United States. Understanding the complexities of the CCPA is crucial if you run a business in California or deal with the personal information of California people. In addition to being required by law, compliance with this legislation demonstrates your dedication to protecting customer privacy.

But introducing a new security standard brings a wave of questions about how you can get attested to it. This blog aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the CCPA compliance framework and its numerous requirements. Let’s define what the California Consumer Privacy Act is.

What is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)?

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a state-level data privacy law passed in the American state of California in 2018 and was brought into effect on 1st January 2020. The CCPA aims to improve Californians’ privacy rights and consumer protection by regulating how companies handle personal information. It grants customers various rights regarding enterprises’ use and sharing of their personal information. One of these rights is the power to ask to delete their data. The CCPA also creates a set of regulations that businesses must follow to execute and maintain legal compliance. 

What is “Personal Data” as Classified Under CCPA? 

Businesses subject to the CCPA must inform customers of their data collection practices clearly and openly, disclose the categories of personal information gathered, and allow customers to exercise their legal rights. For this, it is important to know what classifies as personal data. Personal information is defined in the CCPA text as “data that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.”

To be clear, personal information is any information that can be used to identify a particular customer or household. This includes names, aliases, addresses, social security numbers, age and date of birth, passport and driver’s license numbers, email addresses, IP addresses, account names, credit and debit card numbers, bank information, browsing, searching, and purchase histories, geolocation, and biometric data, information about employment and education, and religious and political affiliations, amongst others.

Data accessible to the general public, such as property tax records, does not constitute personal data. Aggregated data and health information covered by other laws, such as HIPAA, DPRA, GLBA, FCRA, or California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, are also not considered personal information.

What is the Main Purpose of CCPA?

Businesses have had to take precautions to protect customer data for many years. However, they were not held accountable for what they did with it or who they shared it with. The CCPA marks a significant advancement in personal data privacy by giving customers greater control and visibility into how their data is utilized. With the CCPA laws, legislators wanted to clarify that personal data belonged only to the customer.

Now, let’s understand the requirements listed under the California Consumer Privacy Act.

What are the CCPA Requirements?

Under CCPA, you can find precise guidelines for businesses in relation to the rights of consumers regarding their personal data. These are as follows:

  1. Right to Disclosure

If a business intends to use the information on a consumer whose privacy is protected by the CCPA, they must disclose your plans to the consumer before data collection.

  1. Right to Access

Customers can request that the business give them the data in an easily understandable format. This has to be given without charge and within 45 days of the request. 

  1. Right to Contact information

Consumers must know where to find more information about a company’s privacy policy and CCPA compliance activities. If they choose to contact the company to exercise any CCPA-related rights, they must also give them your toll-free number and online contact information.

  1. Right to Delete Information

Businesses are required by law to comply with a consumer’s request to erase personal data and information under the CCPA. A few extremely specific exceptions apply when you require the data to carry out a superseding legal requirement.

  1. Right to Opt Out of Information

Businesses must allow consumers to reject the sale of their personal information if they do so. They must have a web page with a clear opt-out option and, ideally, a link to your privacy policy page. Moreover, they must be able to refuse data usage for upcoming marketing campaigns.

  1. Right to Fair Treatment

Businesses cannot discriminate against or treat users differently based on whether they use their CCPA rights. No matter whatever rights a consumer exercises, they must provide them all the same degree of access and service.

  1. Right to be Informed about Periodic Privacy Policy Updates

Businesses must update their privacy statement every year. Customers must be informed if they suddenly start collecting, selling, processing, or handling data in a different way than they were in the past—or if they are compiling more data than was previously discussed.

The next section covers a brief overview of everything you need to do to achieve compliance with CCPA guidelines.

CCPA Compliance Checklist

CCPA compliance does not necessarily have to be a demanding and time-consuming endeavor for your company. Here are some pointers and steps you can take to make sure you are CCPA-compliant both now and in the future:

  1. Preparation
  • Categorize data assets.
  • Recognize the new consumer rights
  • Create a data risk analysis report
  • Search for hidden info in systems
  1. Implementation
  • Craft a new version of data privacy policies
  • Put rights response procedures into action
  • Adapt access and permissions controls
  • Upgrade essential hardware and software
  1. Maintenance
  • Review privacy policies every year
  • Conduct mandatory CCPA training
  • Erase unnecessary data regularly
  • Simplify the rights response procedures

What may happen to your business if you are found to be non-compliant with CCPA guidelines? 

Penalties for Non-Compliance with CCPA

Companies can face civil penalties for non-compliance that are considered accidental from the start at $2,500 per infraction. These fines can go to as much as $7,500 for willful non-compliance. There is also the business’s response timeframe. According to the CCPA, a corporation can only receive a warning if it can “cure” the non-compliance within 30 days of being informed. They are again responsible and could face sanctions if they cannot fix the problem within the 30-day term.

Data breaches are a distinct issue that gives impacted customers the right to pursue certain legal action against the company at fault. In the event of a data breach brought on by an organization’s failure to establish appropriate data security measures, customers may file a claim for statutory damages.

CCPA Compliance Readiness with Akitra!

Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when courting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.

Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our compliance automation platform and service help our customers prepare readiness for the CCPA compliance standard, along with other security frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, NIST CSF, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, FedRAMP, CMMC, and more such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. In addition, companies can use Akitra’s Risk Management product for overall risk management for your company, Trust Center, and AI-based Automated Questionnaire Response product to streamline and expedite security questionnaire response processes delivering huge cost savings. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently. 

The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings, including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.

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