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Consumer Reports Opposes Efforts to Delay CCPA Enforcement Due to COVID-19

Businesses, consumers, and regulators continue to grapple with balancing privacy, cybersecurity, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, this blog explored the increased cyber risks that the pandemic poses to businesses, providing guidance on how businesses can navigate that risk. Yesterday, we reported on a joint letter filed by more than 30 industry groups to the California Attorney General (AG) requesting a delay in enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) due to the burdens that COVID-19 is placing on businesses. Enforcement of the CCPA is currently scheduled to commence as early as July 1, 2020. Earlier this week, Consumer Reports, a consumer advocacy group, urged the AG to reject industry efforts to delay enforcement of the CCPA.

Consumer Reports argues that COVID-19 actually increases the need for enforcement of consumer privacy rights, as more and more consumers turn to technology to cope with the pandemic. The press release quotes Justin Brookman, Consumer Reports’ Director of Privacy and Technology Policy: “It is more critical than ever for policymakers to ensure fairness, safety, and transparency for consumers in the marketplace.” Consumer Reports argues that because “more consumers are working from home and relying on tech companies for crucial communications, the Attorney General needs to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place.” The statement notes that this is not the first time industry groups have asked for delayed enforcement of the CCPA, pointing to prior comments on the draft regulations sent to the AG in January of this year by certain advertising groups .

The conflicting positions taken by various interest groups on whether enforcement of the CCPA should be delayed highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the interplay of digital security and privacy into the spotlight. In just the last few days, Consumer Reports has also advocated for Google’s sister company, Verily, to heighten privacy protections for its new COVID-19 testing platform. And this comes as governments around the world harness technology in their efforts to stem the pandemic, including surveillance camera footage and mobile phone location data, triggering concern about the privacy implications of these steps.

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We will continue to provide updates on the CCPA, as well as how the COVID-19 pandemic affects cybersecurity and privacy as they become available.