What The New California Disclosure Law Means To You

Sep 30, 2004 12:21 AM  By

Beginning in January, list owners will need to heed a new California privacy law. California civil code section 1798.83 will force companies that disclose consumers’ personal data to third parties for use in direct marketing to provide California consumers with information about the use of such data within 30 days of the consumers’ request.

The law applies to all companies doing business with California residents, regardless of where the companies are based. List owners must provide several types of information upon request: a list of the categories of personal customer information provided to third parties for direct marketing purposes during the prior calendar year; the names and addresses of those third parties; and examples of the third-party company’s products or services.

“Depending on how California implements the law, it could change the way list owners and managers do business in terms of list rental and exchanges,” says Steve Tamke, senior vice president of Hackensack, NJ-based list firm Mokrynski & Associates. “I’m sure we’ll find a way to comply the with law, but it will make the business more complicated and more expensive. The law is going to have a big impact not only on list owners but for list compilers as well.”

One bit of good news for list owners is that they don’t have to provide individualized responses. Rather, they can provide standard information covering all customer data disclosures. For example, a form letter is acceptable.

In addition, list owners will have to notify Californians of their ability to make such requests. Catalogers need to provide mailing or e-mail addresses and a toll-free number to customers for submitting requests for information. They can notify California customers of the law by having their call center reps mention it to customers as they take orders or by publishing a note in the print catalog and on the Website, along with other privacy policy information.