The internet is going to look, and work, a little different starting today. That's because Californians have new rights over how their personal information is gathered, stored and sold by any company operating in the state as of Jan. 1, thanks to the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA.
But what are these new rights? How can you actually exercise them? And will any of this make a difference in how you use the internet?
Three new rights are at the heart of the CCPA, the strongest consumer data privacy law in the nation: the right to know, the right to delete, and the right to opt out.
Knowing is half the battle
The right to know means that you can ask a company to produce a copy of all the personal information it has gathered on you over the years, and let you know the categories (although not the specific names) of businesses it gathered that information from or sold that information to.
The right to delete means that companies must delete all the information they have on you when you ask, and if they had shared your information with another company they hired to perform a service, they must tell that company to delete it, too. Companies can still keep data they deem necessary for some uses, such as completing an ongoing transaction or detecting security breaches, but by and large they're required to zero you out if you request it.
Companies subject to the law (which include most companies with websites and customers in California) have to provide at least an email address and a toll-free phone number where you can submit these requests, which you should be able to find in their privacy policies.