Most people have a general idea that the websites they read online are watching them back, but the question of “how much” seems an ethereal mystery, where reality only surfaces when the advertising that they see throughout the Internet mysteriously catches their interests.
For instance, a search engine query about a vacation in the Bahamas might be reflected in banner ads on your favorite newspaper or even in the commercials that interrupt your favorite podcast or streaming video.
There’s a reason why so many search engines, online publications, and massive video and photo hosting websites are free – and that’s because they provide businesses with ideal ways to track and market to particular customers based on their Interest. No longer does a company have to spend massive amounts of money on a Super Bowl ad to gain the interest of the few who are actively interested in a particular product or service.
The way advertisers follow you around on the Internet is through something called a “cookie” which is a weird name for a small piece of data that every website stores on your computer. When you go to a new site, the new site will look at the “cookie” and serve you advertising that it thinks you will be interested in. You have probably used cookies many times without thinking about them when you tell a website to remember your password or address. But the convenience can contain risks to your privacy and the security of your data.
Oftentimes these cookies are not retained by the website you are specifically visiting, but they may be maintained by third-party advertisers or other technology providers that operate on the business websites. The data collected can be very valuable and can be sold back and forth across the Internet.
Although cookies have been around for most of the history of the Internet, only recently have governments become interested in making sure that you as a private consumer have the ability to turn them on or off, and that you have access to the information that a company may be maintaining about you.
In January 2023, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. It provides California residents with the right to know about and control what personal information is being collected again. This includes a right to opt-out of the sale of personal information, and the right to request that companies delete their information.
Although the CCPA was passed in California, it may have a much broader national impact. The CCPA will apply to for-profit businesses that collect consumers’ personal information, do business in California, and meet one of the following criteria: (1) have annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million; (2) annually buy, receive, sell, or share the personal information of 50,000 or more California consumers, households, or devices; or (3) derive 50% or more of their annual revenues from selling California consumers’ personal information.
That means that the CCPA arguably applies to many workers’ compensation practitioners, whether they be law firms, providers, administrators, etc. So what does the new law require them to do?
Most websites will have a general “accept cookies” pop-up that website visitors will need to click in order to access them, although some may have different versions of websites that offer a general rather than specifically tailored viewing experience.
Michael D. Peabody is a partner and the Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Services at the Law Office of Bradford & Barthel’s Woodland Hills location, where he aggressively defends against workers’ compensation claims. If you have questions about the California Consumer Privacy Act or workers’ compensation defense issues, please feel free to contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 818.654.0411.
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