Siding against the California Chamber of Commerce, an appellate court ruled Friday that state Attorney General Rob Bonta can immediately enforce new privacy regulations.
The decision reversed a ruling by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles, who granted the business group's request to delay enforcement until March 29, 2024.
Those regulations -- which were initially proposed in 2022 and finalized on March 29, 2023 -- specify how businesses must comply with California's 2018 Privacy Protection Act and the 2020 Consumer Privacy Rights Act (also known as Proposition 24).
The two measures, taken together, give consumers the right to tell companies not to share or sell their information for a host of purposes, including online behavioral advertising.
The regulations were initially slated for enforcement on July 1, 2023, but the state Chamber of Commerce sought a postponement, arguing that companies were entitled to a 12-month period to come into compliance.
The group pointed to language in the Consumer Privacy Rights Act specifying that regulations would be effective one year after they were finalized.
Arguelles agreed with the business group and barred immediate enforcement.
The California Privacy Protection Agency appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeal, arguing that although Proposition 24 sets out deadlines, it does not explicitly require a one-year grace period.
A three-judge appellate panel sided with the privacy agency, with Justice Elena Duarte writing that the text of Proposition 24 shows “voters intended to strengthen and protect consumers’ privacy rights regarding the collection and use (including sale) of their personal information” and that voters intended for the agency to “vigorously” enforce the law.
“The statute does not unambiguously require a one-year gap between approval and enforcement regardless of when the approval occurs, and nothing in the relevant material presented for our review signals that the voters intended such a gap,” Duarte wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Ronald Robie and Boulware Eurie.