Amendment to CCPA regarding personal information

California’s new privacy law takes effect January 1, 2020, less than 100 days from now. The bill was written in a hurry in order to prevent a similar measuring from appearing on a ballot initiative. The thought was that the state legislature would pass something quickly then clean it up later with amendments.

Six amendments were passed recently, and the deadline for further amendments has passed. California governor Gavin Newsom has until October 13 to either sign or veto each of the amendments.

This post will look at just one of the six amendments, AB-874, and what it means for personal information. The text of the amendment repeats the text of the original law, so I ran a diff tool on the two in order to see what changed.

In a couple instances, capable was changed to reasonably capable.

“Personal information” means information that identifies, relates to, describes, is reasonably capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household. Personal information includes, but is not limited to, the following if it identifies, relates to, describes, is reasonably capable of being associated with, or could be reasonably linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household …

“Capable” is awfully broad. Almost anything is capable of being associated with a particular consumer or household, so adding reasonable was reasonable. You see something similar in the HIPAA privacy rule when it speaks of “reasonably available information.”

The amendment also removed a clause that was ungrammatical and nonsensical as far as I can tell:

… “publicly available” means information that is lawfully made available from federal, state, or local government records, if any conditions associated with such information.

The following sentence from the CCPA was also removed in the amendment:

Information is not “publicly available” if that data is used for a purpose that is not compatible with the purpose for which the data is maintained and made available in the government records or for which it is publicly maintained.

I suppose the idea behind removing this line was that data is either publicly available or it’s not. Once information is publicly available, it’s kinda hard to ask people to act as if it’s not publicly available for some uses.

The final change appears to be correcting a mistake:

Publicly available Personal information” does not include consumer information that is deidentified or aggregate consumer information.

It makes no sense to say public information does not include deidentified information. You might deidentify data precisely because you want to make it public. I believe the author of this line of the CCPA meant to say what the amendment says, that deidentified and aggregate information are not considered personal.

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As I have pointed out elsewhere, I am not a lawyer. Nor am I a lepidopterist, auto mechanic, or cosmetologist. Nothing here should be considered legal advice. Nor should it be considered advice on butterflies, cars, or hair care.

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