Dec 30, 2019

Chris Hoofnagle on California’s New Data Privacy Law for 2020

From All Things Considered on National Public Radio (NPR)

California Rings In The New Year With A New Data Privacy Law

By Rachael Myrow

On Jan. 1, the toughest data privacy law in the U.S. goes into effect: the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA.

That's why you're seeing a host of emails pop up in your inbox from various companies announcing updates to their terms of service, particularly their privacy policies. With no similar federal law on the horizon, this one is expected to set the standard nationally for some time to come...

But while Facebook has made it easy to download your data (as have Twitter and Google), the Menlo Park-based social media giant argues that it sells advertisers access to users, so it's up to the advertisers to let users opt out or not.

That doesn't pass the smell test for a number of industry watchers, including Chris Hoofnagle, who teaches technology regulation at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Facebook, in particular, appears to be interpreting the law in a very opportunistic way. So that they don't actually need to do anything to comply with it," he said.

Hoofnagle thinks the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley are in a financial position to bet it'll be a while before the attorney general's office comes for them.

Tech companies could earn serious money in the meantime. Facebook alone made $55 billion in 2018 providing advertisers access to users.

"Enforcement is the big unknown here. But Facebook will be in trouble if the attorney general picks up the law and uses it," Hoofnagle said.


Chris Hoofnagle is a professor in the UC Berkeley School of Information and School of Law.

Last updated:

January 6, 2020