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California’s new privacy law sparks confusion, inconsistency

Privacy rabbithole ImageQuest

California’s new privacy law took effect Jan. 1 and so far, the results are confusing and inconsistent.

One of the markers of the new law is a “Do Not Sell My Info” link. But some websites do not have it yet, or have buried it in fine print.

The L.A. Times offered up a lengthy webpage devoted to its “updated” California Privacy Policy, complete with the Do Not Sell My Info link. However, that sent readers to a new page that reminded readers that blocking their info would hurt the paper and its “Pulitzer-Prize winning journalism.” The paper relies on its advertising revenue, which depends on the paper’s ability to sell advertisers data on readers.

“(P)aid advertising is an essential source of revenue,” the webpage reads. “Opting out of the sale of your personal information, in the context of advertising, hinders our ability to drive advertising revenue.”

Politico said the new law had sparked a “Wild West” of responses, from a wealthy developer seeking a vote for a revised law to businesses scrambling to comply without admitting they collected and sold personal data.

Over on Bloomberg, writer Alistair Barr detailed the “Privacy Circle of Hell” he endured trying to ask companies “to send me my data, tell them to delete it, and prevent them from selling it.” He said it took him two hours, required him to upload MORE personally identifiable information, and stressed him out.

This prompted another Bloomberg writer to opine that privacy should be the default, not the other way around, as the Internet currently is. This view was shared last week by an FTC Commissioner at the giant CES consumer electronics show.

That’s a roundup from the first two weeks of a potential, precedent-setting law trying to draw a line in the turmoil around data privacy. Stay tuned.