Consumer Group Has Issues with CCPA

(Image credit: N/A)

Consumer Reports says consumers are not being "fully" protected by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and that the November ballot initiative to toughen the act does not go far enough.

“Attorney General Xavier Becerra must strengthen enforcement of the CCPA to address non-compliance, said Maureen Mahoney, policy analyst at Consumer Reports. "While the CCPA is an important first step, the results of the study shows that the law needs to be enforced more aggressively and enhanced so that consumers can more easily exercise their privacy rights. ”

Related: Consumer Reports Says CCPA Enforcement Must Proceed

CCPA went into effect Jan. 1, but enforcement did not begin in earnest until July, and even then without final rules on how to implement it. Advertisers have pointed out that that was part of the reason there has been some confusion over how to comply with it, adding that the ballot initiative would add further uncertainty.

CCPA gives consumers the right to access, delete and prevent the sale of their personal information, but CR suggests the ability to do so is a different matter.

It conducted what it called a mixed-methods study, which it said found that:

1. "Consumers struggled to locate the required links to opt out of the sale of their information. For 42.5% of sites tested, at least one of three testers was unable to find a DNS link. All three volunteers failed to find a “Do Not Sell” link on 12.6% of sites, and in several other cases one or two of three testers were unable to locate a link. 

2. "At least 14% of the time, burdensome or broken DNS processes prevented consumers from exercising their rights under the CCPA.

3. "At least one data broker used information provided for a DNS request to add the user  to a marketing list, in violation of the CCPA.

4. "At least one data broker required the user to set up an account to opt out, in violation of the CCPA.

5. "Consumers often didn’t know if their opt-out request was successful. Neither the CCPA nor the CCPA rules require companies to notify consumers when their request has been honored. As a result, about 46% of the time, consumers were left waiting or unsure about the status of their request.

6. "About 52% of the time, the tester was “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with opt-out processes.

CR said that the Proposition 24 ballot initiative reforming CCPA would address some, but not all, of those problems. 

The Association of National Advertisers had called for delaying implementation of the regs-citing their impact on journalism and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.