Movie Industry, Newspapers Join Request To Postpone California Privacy Enforcement

Hollywood and the newspaper industry have joined a growing roster of groups calling on California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to delay enforcement of the state's sweeping new privacy law due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a revised letter sent Friday to Becerra, the Motion Picture Association of America, News Media Alliance, Out of Home Advertising Association of America, Association of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and 60 other business groups, say the current outbreak of COVID-19 warrants a six-month postponement of enforcement.

“This short forbearance will allow businesses to absorb the shock to the system presented by the current health crisis and will give businesses the time they need to understand and effectively operationalize the rules helping ensure consumers have consistent access to the rights afforded under the new law,” the groups write.

The revised letter came two days after 33 business groups sought a similar delay. Those organizations also signed the new letter.

The landmark California Consumer Privacy Act gives consumers the right to learn what personal information about them is held by businesses, request deletion of that information, and opt out of its sale. 

The measure took effect in January, but enforcement is not scheduled to begin until July 1.

The organizations argue that current work-from-home requirements have left key personnel unable to build and test new systems on site.

The business groups add that the regulations implementing the law have not yet been finalized.

“Without final regulatory requirements, businesses will be unable to make operational changes to their systems with any certainty that such changes will be compliant with the final form of the law,” the letter states. “This reality will significantly delay businesses in crafting their ultimate CCPA compliance programs.”

Many companies have instituted mandatory work-from-home measures to limit community spread of the virus, meaning that the individuals who are responsible for creating processes to comply with CCPA are not present in the office to undertake such tasks.

Developing innovative business procedures to comply with brand-new legal requirements is a formidable undertaking on its own, but it is an especially tall order when there are no dedicated, on-site staff available to build and test necessary new systems and processes.

An advisor to Becerra says the attorney general is currently planning to move forward with enforcement as originally scheduled.

“Right now, we're committed to enforcing the law upon finalizing the rules or July 1, whichever comes first,” the advisor states. “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.”

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