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Consumer Reports: What a new privacy law means for you

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Posted at 8:54 AM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 10:54:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - From where you like to shop to where you live, companies have been turning your personal data into big profits for years. But to start this year, the California Consumer Privacy Act gives California residents, and perhaps millions of others, new privacy rights.

“This law is definitely the first comprehensive privacy law we have in this country," says Justin Brookman, Consumer Reports. "It’s the first law that will require big companies that make money off of your data to give you back some control over it.”

Even better news: While the law currently applies to only California residents, Consumer Reports says the law is likely to have a ripple effect throughout the U.S.

“First, we’re already starting to see other states consider passing similar legislation, Nevada has already passed a privacy law for example," says Brookman. "I also think a lot of companies are going to follow this law everywhere rather than try to figure out where people are to decide what law to comply with.”

Here’s what California residents can expect to see changed: Companies will offer consumers the option of having their data deleted. Some companies, such as Google and Facebook have already provided these options to consumers. In addition, companies are also now required to provide details about the kinds of third parties they’re selling data to.

But possibly the most significant change will be an “opt-out” link, a button on the bottom of a webpage that says “Do Not Sell My Personal Information”, which Californians will start seeing soon.

And since these changes might not come immediately for those living outside of the Golden State, Consumer Reports says using an ad blocker is still one of the best ways to stop companies from tracking you.