California’s Privacy Battle: Protecting Personal Data vs Business Interests

California's Privacy Battle: Protecting Personal Data vs Business Interestsprivacy,dataprotection,California,personaldata,businessinterests

California Considers Making Personal Data Removal Easier


California, known for its progressive stance on privacy rights, is considering legislation that would make it easier for residents to remove their personal data from the internet. The current digital privacy law, passed in 2018, grants Californians the right to request the deletion of their personal information from businesses. However, the process is labor-intensive and requires making individual requests to potentially hundreds of companies. The new legislation, Senate Bill 362 (known as the Delete Act), would simplify this process by allowing consumers to make a single request to data brokers to delete their personal information.

The Debate

The introduction of Senate Bill 362 has ignited a debate between consumer groups and privacy advocates on one side and tech companies and other businesses on the other. Those in favor argue that individuals should have more control over their personal information online, citing the risks and potential misuse of data collected and sold by data brokers. Supporters of the bill also mention the importance of protecting vulnerable populations, such as abortion seekers, undocumented immigrants, and activists, whose personal information could be used against them. On the other side, opponents argue that data collection has numerous benefits, such as enabling personalized advertising, aiding law enforcement, facilitating research, and supporting nonprofits in collecting donations. They claim that the proposed legislation could hinder transactions and verification processes, making it more difficult for businesses to operate efficiently.

Data Brokers and their Role

Data brokers play a significant role in the collection and sale of personal information, including addresses, age, marital status, and occupation. While some well-known companies, like Equifax and Experian, are recognized as data brokers, there are also many lesser-known entities that work with political campaigns, law enforcement, marketers, and small businesses. In California alone, around 500 data brokers are registered. The availability and accessibility of personal data through various sources, including public records and social media posts, make it crucial for individuals to have control over what information is collected and how it is used.

The Implications and Risks

The debate around data privacy is not new, and concerns regarding the sale and use of personal information have persisted for years. The increasing amount of data available raises pressing questions about the potential risks individuals face when their personal information circulates freely. While opponents of the legislation argue that data collection can have benefits, such as targeted advertising, it is essential to strike a balance between the benefits and the potential harm caused by widespread data availability. Instances of identity theft, stalking, and harassment underscore the need to empower individuals with the ability to control their personal data and remove it from the web.

Advice and Recommendations


As individuals, there are steps we can take to protect our personal information and limit its exposure. First and foremost, be cautious about the information you provide to businesses and other organizations. Consider the potential risks and benefits before sharing personal details. Regularly review and update privacy settings on social media platforms. Additionally, consider utilizing privacy tools and services that help manage and remove your personal data from the internet, such as DeleteMe.


Lawmakers should prioritize enacting comprehensive privacy legislation that empowers individuals, protects their personal data, and ensures transparency and accountability from businesses. The current patchwork of privacy laws and regulations both at the state and federal level lacks consistency and can be confusing for individuals and businesses. A comprehensive approach that aligns with evolving technologies and societal norms is necessary to address the complex challenges surrounding data privacy.


Businesses, particularly data brokers, should recognize the importance of respecting individuals’ privacy rights and implementing responsible data practices. Transparency about data collection and usage, as well as providing individuals with meaningful choices and control over their personal information, will not only benefit consumers but also build trust in the long term.


The ongoing debate in California over personal data removal reflects the larger conversation surrounding data privacy and the rights of individuals in the digital age. Balancing the benefits of data collection with the risks it poses is a complex task, but it is essential to find a middle ground that respects individuals’ privacy rights while allowing responsible use of data. By considering the proposed legislation and engaging in thoughtful dialogue, California has the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the United States and the world in terms of protecting individuals’ control over their personal information.

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<< photo by Joshua Plattner >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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