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September 16, 2013 / Admin

Tracking: CA Law Will Force Websites To Disclose “Do Not Track” Practices

California’s State Senate and Assembly passed AB 370, a bill to amend the California Online Protection Act (CalOPPA). The bill would require operators of commercial websites to inform consumers as to how the website responds to “do not track” (DNT) signals sent by web browsers. The triggering of such signals results in enforcement by state and federal authorities. The amendment is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Tracking occurs when webservers observe and retain records of a person’s actions or habits across space, cyberspace, or time.  The concept of preventing “tracking” began with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009. The concept was further developed by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). However, despite recent developments in the DNT movement, much ambiguity remains as to exact rules and definitions regarding DNTs. For example, even in the absence of targeted advertising, the web still relies on collected data for many permissible activities (i.e. detecting fraudulent activity). Other problems include triggering DNT signals automatically without presenting a choice to the consumer to either permit or disallow tracking by the webserver. Finally, there is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes “tracking” and “sharing” of information by webservers and experts have yet to agree on what the DNT signal should mean.

Generally, CalOPPA requires commercial websites to post a clear privacy policy, which includes: categories of personally identifiable information, third parties who may have access to the information, and the implementation of a process by which the consumer can review and change personally identifiable information. AB 370 will require website owners to disclose how they respond to DNT signals and will require the disclosure of whether other parties may collect personally identifiable information with regards to a consumer’s online activities when the consumer uses a website.

Upon AB 370 becoming effective, any publisher of a commercial website that is accessible by California residents which purports to comply with DNT signals will be subject to action by state and federal authorities for any subsequent violations.

Our firm investigates potential claims involving privacy violations. If you or someone else you know has been subject to a violation of privacy, please contact Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a consultation.


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