The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have far-reaching effects on businesses and consumers everywhere.  While many states are taking broadly consistent approaches on certain issues (e.g., price gouging, non-essential business closures), one area where we’ve seen significant divergence involves regulation of collection efforts – both by first party creditors and debt collectors.  In

As localities order people to stay at home and non-essential businesses to close, consumers are turning to online options.  Although you might welcome the traffic, you might also be facing unexpected challenges like a reduced work force, supply chain disruptions, manufacturing shifts from regular inventory to medical necessities, and other hurdles that can cause shipping

As a follow-up to our recent posts on price gouging (see here, here, and here), we noted recent signs that federal and state authorities have escalated their enforcement efforts.

  • On Monday, the President signed an executive order to prevent hoarding and price gouging of crucial medical supplies.  It authorizes criminal prosecution of

Facial Recognition Tech Enforced by Vermont AG Under State Privacy & Data Broker LawsVermont Attorney General Thomas Donovan Jr. has ratcheted up ongoing scrutiny of facial recognition technology.  On March 10, the Vermont AG sued facial recognition technology provider Clearview AI and moved for a preliminary injunction against the company.  Clearview drew wide attention in January following the publication of a New York Times story that detailed how

This post updates an earlier post relating to marketing around the coronavirus.

We noted a couple news items this week that help add context to the pervasiveness of and risks related to price gouging enforcement.  In this story, the New York Times reported on a merchant who was selling hand sanitizer and related protective

Before You Market Around CoronavirusUntil recently, most consumers likely associated anything starting with “Corona” with a sunny beach and a lime wedge.

Not anymore.

The public is rightly concerned about coronavirus and how to avoid catching it.  And where the public has questions, marketers will have answers.  Here are a couple things to think about before rushing that next

On January 30th, 24 State Attorneys General*, led by Kwame Raoul (D) of Illinois, submitted an amici curiae brief in support of the Federal Trade Commission’s position in FTC v. Credit Bureau Center LLC.

These State AGs are in agreement with the FTC, which has argued that the district court’s authority to

The CFPB announced today a policy statement outlining three new principles that it intends to apply when evaluating whether practices are “abusive” under the Dodd-Frank Act.  The Dodd-Frank Act marked the first time that a federal or state regulator was granted the authority to regulate broadly “abusive” acts and practices.  While Dodd-Frank provided a general

At the end of 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo released the 10th proposal of his 2020 State of the State Agenda, which aims to eliminate the so-called “pink tax,” a gender-based pricing phenomenon that allegedly results in higher prices for good and services marketed towards women as compared to substantially similar alternatives marketed

The January 1, 2020 effective date of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has come and gone, but questions about how to comply with the law show no hint of disappearing.  As companies move past their efforts to comply with the law’s most visible requirement – providing notice at the point of collection and explaining data practices in a full privacy policy – the focus is sharpening on a broad array of operational and implementation questions.

While Attorney General Xavier Becerra has indicated his office will prioritize enforcement relating to the sale of minors’ personal information, will direct enforcement efforts at companies that are not showing a willingness to comply, and will not make major changes before finalizing the proposed regulations, the Attorney General has not fielded specific questions about how to implement the law.  This state of affairs has left companies scrambling to benchmark their compliance practices against competitors and the industry at large.

In this post, we provide some insights on common questions we are hearing about how to comply with the CCPA in the absence of clear guidance or precedent.  Of course, every company is different and companies should always consult with a privacy attorney before deciding on the best way to comply with the CCPA.

Why are so many companies posting a “Do Not Sell My Info” (DNSMI) button on their website if they do not sell personal information in exchange for money?

Companies that post a DNSMI button but do not sell personal information for money likely have determined that their provision of personal information to ad tech companies in connection with interest-based advertising is a “sale.”  Accordingly, they post the DNSMI button to enable consumers to opt out of these “sales.”

The question of whether, and under what circumstances, the use of third-party cookies, pixels, tags, etc. constitutes a “sale” and how to provide DNSMI choices is a flashpoint in the debate over how to interpret the CCPA (as discussed here, here, and here).  There is a growing consensus that only a lawsuit or a government enforcement action will resolve this matter.

For now, two ways of analyzing this question are emerging.  One position concludes that data collected via a third-party cookie, tag, or pixel may be a potential “sale” because the company adding that cookie, tag, or pixel to its website sends, makes available, or otherwise shares personal information to an ad tech provider in exchange for services, and, critically, where that provider does not restrict its use or sharing of that personal information for the provider’s or other entities’ commercial benefit (other than for a limited number of exempted purposes).

The other position is that the third party directly collects personal information via the cookie, tag, or pixel placed on a publisher’s website, and the publisher is not selling that personal information to the third party responsible for the tracker.

Each business, however, will need to evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, whether its interest-based advertising, analytics, and other forms of tracking may constitute a sale under the CCPA.  Often this starts with categorizing  the types of vendors and partners (i.e. ad tech, analytics, or other services); identifying each specific vendor or partner responsible for the tracker on the business’s site(s); and reviewing the vendor or provider’s publicly posted terms, privacy policy, and contract with the business, if there is one, to determine if the transfer of personal information to the vendor could reasonably qualify as a transfer for a business purpose to a service provider, or other exemption, or whether the transfer is likely a “sale.”

When can a business claim that its ad tech partner and purchased ad tech services are exempt from the “sale” provisions of the CCPA?

The CCPA provides an exemption from the definition of a “sale” when a business uses or shares with a “service provider” personal information of a consumer that is necessary and proportionate to perform a “business purpose.”  As a result, companies may want to determine (1) whether an ad tech vendor is a “service provider” and (2) whether that vendor performs its ad tech service for a “business purpose.”  Examining specific arrangements with each advertising partner is the best way to address this question and for each of the relevant services provided by the vendor.

Some of the major players in online advertising have laid down public markers that can be helpful in classifying interest-based advertising activities.  Examples include:
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