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  • April M Strauss

Data Minimization Applied to Consumer Requests: Key Takeaways from California Privacy Protection Agency's First Enforcement Advisory

California Privacy Protection Agency Enforcement Advisory No. 2024-01: Applying Data Minimization to Consumer Requests

On April 2, 2024, the California Privacy Protection Agency issued its first Enforcement Advisory. (See CPPA Enforcement Advisory No. 2024-01.) This advisory, focusing on the principle of data minimization in the processing of consumer requests under the California Consumer Privacy Act, California Civil Code §§ 1798.100 – 199.100 (CCPA), represents a significant step in the agency’s efforts to guide businesses towards compliance and to rigorously enforce the privacy protections afforded consumers under the CCPA and Proposition 24 (CPRA).


The Principle of Data Minimization Under the CCPA


Data minimization is a core tenet of the CCPA, a foundational principle that mandates businesses limit the collection, use, retention, and sharing of personal information to that which is strictly necessary for achieving the purposes for which the data was collected. This principle is not just a regulatory compliance issue; it is a crucial measure for safeguarding consumer privacy. Responsible data hygiene practices, including data minimization (1) reduce the risk that cyberthieves will gain access to sensitive personal information through social engineering or exploitation of system vulnerabilities, and (2) promote consumer trust through alignment between consumer data collection / use expectations and business practices.


The CCPA regulations are replete with requirements that reflect the importance the Agency places on data minimization. See 11 CCR § 7025(c)(2) (businesses shall not require consumers to provide additional information beyond what is necessary to send opt-out preference signals); 11 CCR §7026(c) (same for requests to opt out of sale/sharing ); 11 CCR §7027(d) (same for requests to limit use and disclosure of sensitive personal information ). See also 11 CCR §7060(c) & (d) (emphasizing similar minimization requirements when businesses seek to verify consumers’ identities). These regulations lay out specific guidelines for applying the principle of data minimization across different consumer request scenarios.


Key Observations from the Enforcement Division


The Advisory offers critical insights into the common pitfalls that businesses may fall into when processing consumer data requests. Within that context, the Agency provides a detailed analysis of two common situations regularly faced by entities covered by the CCPA: responding to requests to opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information and verifying consumer identities when responding to requests to delete personal information. For each scenario, the Enforcement Division not only identifies the sections of the CCPA and corresponding regulations that should be considered and complied with, it also provides helpful tools for self-assessment of compliance through its hypotheticals and questions to consider.


Practices that run afoul of data minimization requirements when responding to consumer data requests not only compromise consumer privacy but also expose businesses to significant legal and reputational risks. By highlighting these processes, the Enforcement Division aims to encourage businesses to reassess their data practices and align them with the CCPA’s requirements.


Implications for Businesses


The issuance of this Enforcement Advisory underscores the California Privacy Protection Agency's commitment to active enforcement of the CCPA. As emphasized by Michael S. Macko, the Agency’s Deputy Director of Enforcement. “We intend for our Enforcement Advisories to promote voluntary compliance, but sometimes stronger medicine will be in order. We won’t hesitate to act when necessary.”  (CCPA Enforcement Division Issues First Advisory, California Privacy Protection Agency, 4/2/2024.)


Businesses should take heed and conduct thorough reviews of data collection, use, and retention practices. This includes evaluating the necessity of the personal information collected in relation to the services provided and ensuring that any data collection is strictly aligned with the purposes disclosed to consumers.


Practical Guidance for Compliance: Businesses


Some recommended steps:


1.             Review Current Data Practices: Conduct a comprehensive audit of your data collection, processing, and retention practices. Identify any areas where unnecessary personal information is being requested or retained. Be able to point to concrete justification for data collection and retention aligned with consumer notification and expectations.

2.             Implement Data Minimization Strategies: Adjust your data practices to ensure that only the minimum necessary personal information is collected and retained. This includes revisiting how consumer requests are handled to ensure they do not require excessive personal information.

3.             Enhance Consumer Request Processes: Streamline processes for handling consumer rights requests under the CCPA, ensuring they are efficient, user-friendly, and compliant with data minimization principles.

4.             Regular Training and Education: Ensure that your team is well-versed in CCPA requirements and the principle of data minimization. Regular training sessions can help maintain awareness and compliance.

5.             Consult with Legal Experts: Seek advice from legal professionals specializing in privacy law to ensure your practices are fully compliant with the CCPA and other applicable privacy regulations.


Conclusion: Transparency Benefits Everyone


This first Enforcement Advisory marks a critical juncture in the enforcement of privacy laws in the state. It underscores the Agency’s dual role in both educating businesses about their obligations under the CCPA and enforcing compliance to protect consumer privacy. Moreover, it represents an Agency commitment to transparency that is greatly beneficial to the regulatory community.


Businesses operating in California should take this advisory seriously, not only to avoid potential enforcement actions but also to build trust with their customers by demonstrating a strong commitment to protecting their privacy.


Practical Guidance for Consumers


If you trying to exercise your rights under the CCPA (for example, by requesting a business delete your data, stop sharing your personal information, or limit use of your sensitive data) and you are concerned that you are being required to provide more personal information than is allowed under the law, the California Privacy Protection Agency has a form available at https://cppa.ca.gov/webapplications/complaint to collect and address consumer complaints. More information about your rights can be found at https://privacy.ca.gov.

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