When Privacy Becomes You

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Photo courtesy of the Associated Press (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

What happens when the data collected about you from companies that you utilize knows more about you than you.  Beyond trying to use the word “you” four times in the same sentence to emphasize how much privacy affects everyone, the fact is data is money.  The more data a company collects that it can utilize effectively to make marketing, content, and like decisions that can be sold to other companies and/or used to convert people to customers the more valuable that company will be. 

This is where the State of California enters the picture and continues to lead the nation in terms of forward-thinking legislation in the entertainment, media, and sports space.  First, it was the student-athletes receiving the ability to profit off of their name, image, and likeness.  Several states and the NCAA soon followed suit.  Now, beginning January 1, 2020, California companies will be regulated for collecting data and consumers will have recourse to file suit when the law is broken. 

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), applicable to companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, Disney, Amazon, and Instagram, etc., specifically businesses that have annual gross revenue of more than $25 million, more than 50,000 customers, or where more than half of its revenue comes from selling customer data.  Per The Hollywood Reporter, the law gives “California consumers the right to know what personal information a business is collecting from them; the right to know who it shares it with or sells it to; the right to request that a business delete that information; and the right to stop the sale of their info.” 

“Almost 300 businesses in arts, entertainment and recreation will meet the revenue threshold, and another 12,000 to 18,000 could be affected under the other two standards, according to an August study by Berkeley Economic Advising and Research . . . The CCPA includes a right to sue for security breaches, which allows courts to award damages of $100 to $750 per consumer per incident.”  It is of note that the onus is on consumers to research the law, know their rights, and to take action to enforce those rights through attorneys. 

The legislation adds a needed layer of protection for consumers who continue to have data collected from them and used for profit.  Now data in itself is not all bad.  In fact, it allows for companies to make better decisions on how to service their customers (and frankly to sell more of whatever they are selling).  Nevertheless, some engagements can be unsettling, specifically where advertisements and promotions are targeted towards prospective and existing customers.  Nearly everyone has had such experiences. 

The law will add operational and potential litigation costs for the entertainment industry and beyond.   It could also mean higher profit margins for companies that sell data as data becomes more expensive to collect with the cost passed to the companies that need it to do business.  The question becomes what happens when privacy becomes you.  Meaning, when privacy becomes more important as a commodity to be sold and traded for profit in juxtaposition of you as an individual with rights.  This is where laws hopefully arrive to protect all of us.  That line is now clearer, but it is a balancing act in finding what works and what does not.  We are all living in the present through this life and data industry experiment, figuring out what we as a society are comfortable with and how companies work in that space. 

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