On February 20, 2019, the Attorney General’s Privacy Unit testified before the California State Assembly, requesting, among other things, that the CaCPA be amended to eliminate the safe harbor and to allow broader private rights of action.  We previously reported on that testimony here:  https://www.severson.com/consumer-finance/california-ag-takes-hard-line-on-ccpa-tells-california-assembly-to-broaden-private-rights-of-action-and-to-eliminate-safe-harbor/).  On February 22, 2019, California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D – Santa Barbara) answered the AG’s call by introducing Senate Bill 561 – a bill that would largely provide everything the Attorney General’s office asked for two days earlier.  A copy of the proposed legislation is at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB561  As proposed, SB 561 would make a number of changes to existing law.

First, SB 561 would amend California Civil Code Section 1798.150, permitting “any consumer whose rights under this title are violated” to bring a private lawsuit against a business, in addition to consumers whose data is exposed in a data breach.  This would amount to businesses’ worst nightmare – a full private right of action for any CCPA violation, and would likely touch off the “class action bonanza” that representatives of the California Chamber of Commerce warned about in testimony on Wednesday.

Second, SB 561 would also amend Section 1798.155(a) to eliminate the right of businesses to seek the opinion of the Attorney General regarding compliance with the CCPA, and instead would permit (but not require) the Attorney General to “publish materials that provide businesses and others with general guidance on how to comply with” the CCPA.

Finally, SB 561 would eliminate the 30-day right of businesses to cure violations of the CCPA before lawsuits can be filed.  This would permit private lawsuits – including class actions – to be brought against businesses for even minor violations of the CCPA (the CCPA permits consumers to recover statutory penalties for violations, even if the individual consumers suffered no actual damage).

While SB 561 would have a long way to go before becoming enacted as law in California, the industry is closely watching this piece of legislation backed by the Attorney General.


For more information about the California Consumer Privacy Act, SB 561 or other proposed amendments to the CCPA, contact Joseph W. Guzzetta at 415-677-5622 or jwg@severson.com.