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The California attorney general recently published a set of frequently asked questions providing general consumer information on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA—enacted in June 2018 (covered by a Buckley Special Alert) and amended several times—became effective January 1. Final proposed regulations were submitted by the AG last month as required under the CCPA’s July 1 statutory deadline (covered by InfoBytes here), and are currently with the California Office of Administrative Law for review. The FAQs—which will be updated periodically and do not serve as legal advice, regulatory guidance, or as an opinion of the AG—are intended to provide consumers guidance on exercising their rights under the CCPA.
- General CCPA information. The FAQs address consumer rights under the CCPA and reiterate that these rights apply only to California residents. This section also clarifies the definition of “personal information,” outlines businesses’ compliance thresholds, and states that the CCPA does not apply to nonprofit organizations and government agencies. The FAQs also remind consumers of their limited ability to sue businesses for CCPA violations and details the conditions that must be met before a consumer may sue a business for a data breach. The FAQs remind consumers that if they believe a business has violated the CCPA, they may file a complaint with the AG’s office.
- Right to opt-out of sale. The FAQs answer common questions related to consumers’ requests for businesses not to sell their personal information. The FAQs provide information on the steps for submitting opt-out requests, as well as explanations for why a business may deny an opt-out request. It also address circumstances where a consumer receives a response from a service provider that says it is not required to act on an opt-out request.
- Right to know. The FAQs discuss a consumer’s right to know what personal information is collected, used, shared, or sold, and clarifies what consumers should do to submit requests to know, how long a business may take to respond, and what steps should be taken if a business requests more information, denies a request to know, or claims to be a service provider that is not required to respond.
- Request to delete. The FAQs address several questions related to consumers’ right to delete personal information, including how to submit a request to delete, businesses’ responses to and denials of requests to delete, and why a debt collector may make an attempt to collect a debt or a credit reporting agency may provide credit information even after a request to delete has been made.
- Right to non-discrimination. Consumers are reminded that a business “cannot deny goods or services, charge. . .a different price, or provide a different level or quality of goods or services just because [a consumer] exercised [his or her] rights under the CCPA.”
- Data brokers. The FAQs set forth the definition of a data broker under California law and outline steps for consumers interested in finding data brokers that collect and sell personal information, as well as measures consumers can take to opt-out of the sale of certain personal information.
California Department of Business Oversight will monitor licensees’ compliance with face covering guidance
The California Department of Business Oversight announced that it will monitor licensees’ compliance with face covering guidance issued by the California governor and the California Department of Public Health. All customers must be required to wear appropriate face coverings under circumstances outlined in the guidance, and those who refuse to comply and do not meet the outlined exemptions should be refused entry to banks, credit unions, and other places of business.
On June 30, the California governor signed Executive Order N-17-20 (previously discussed here), which extends authorization for local governments to halt evictions for renters impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic through September 30. Among other things, the executive order also extends the deadlines in connection with certain licenses, including real estate licenses, which we previously covered here.
California governor extends time period to submit real estate renewal applications, fees, and continuing education requirements
On June 15, the California governor issued Executive Order N-69-20, which extends the provisions of the governor’s April 16 executive order, Executive Order N-52-20, and grants an additional 60-day extension to submit real estate license renewal applications, fees, and continuing education requirements. The California Department of Real Estate also updated its FAQs for applicants and licensees regarding Executive Order N-69-20 and Executive Order N-52-20.
The final version of the proposed regulations, which are substantively unchanged from the March draft modifications (covered by InfoBytes here), include an updated statement of reasons summarizing the modifications and reiterating that the “stated bases for the necessity of the proposed regulations continue to apply to the regulations as adopted.”
The AG also submitted an expedited review request, asking that the regulations take effect upon filing with the Secretary of State. The CCPA imposes a July 1 statutory deadline for the AG to adopt initial regulations. However, due to challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, California Executive Order N-40-20 allows the OAL 30 working days, plus an additional 60 calendar days to finalize proposed regulations. Because of this, the AG respectfully requested that the OAL complete its review within 30 days, given the July 1 deadline.
On May 27, the California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) filed an order to ban an Encino-based company from the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) industry for allegedly engaging in fraudulent behavior. According to the press release, the CDBO received 30 complaints from 2018 to 2019 alleging the company solicited homeowners by advertising a “free government program,” but used the homeowners’ personal financial information to submit contracts to PACE program administrators with forged electronic signatures. Additionally, complaints alleged various other fraudulent and illegal actions including, (i) the creation of false email accounts to have the PACE financing documents routed to the agents instead of the homeowners; and (ii) the impersonation of homeowners’ voices on state law required completion calls. The CDBO also asserts that the company sold products at three to five times the usual industry rate and used “high-pressure” sales tactics directed at the elderly and non-primary English speakers. In addition to the Desist and Refrain Order, which demands the company discontinue illegal practices and stop soliciting PACE contract, the CDBO notes that a similar but separate order will also be filed against the company president, who is a PACE solicitor agent.
On May 26, the California Department of Business Oversight issued an investor alert on exempt securities offerings, aka “private placements,” during Covid-19. The alert outlines the reasons why such offerings carry a higher risk of fraud and offers suggestions for potential investors to protect themselves.
Special Alert: California Assembly to introduce legislation for Covid-19-related relief for mortgage loans, vehicle-secured credit, PACE financing, and deferred deposit transactions
We understand that the California State Assembly will shortly propose amendments to Assembly Bill No. 2501 to create the “COVID-19 Homeowner, Tenant, and Consumer Relief Law of 2020.” As of posting of this Alert, the proposed legislation is not available on California’s legislative service website. The proposed law would provide relief to homeowners, tenants, and vehicle owners by prohibiting creditors and loan servicers from taking specified actions, including initiating foreclosures or repossessions, during the period from the date of enactment of the proposed law through the 180-day period following the date that California Governor Gavin Newsom declares the emergency related to Covid-19 has ended. Additionally, the proposed law would require servicers to place certain loans that become delinquent into automatic forbearance for a period of at least six months.
The proposed law appears similar to portions of an appropriations bill, “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act,” which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 23, 2020, prior to the enactment of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and failed to pass. We understand that the proposed law is scheduled to be heard before the California State Assembly Banking Committee on May 19.
California Supreme Court: No jury trial for UCL and FAL claims seeking civil penalties in addition to injunctive or other equitable relief
On April 30, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion holding that under the state’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and the False Advertising Law (FAL), government enforcement actions seeking civil penalties in addition to injunctive or other equitable relief should be decided by a judge instead of by a jury. The decision overturns a Court of Appeal decision holding that a jury must weigh in when civil penalties are involved. The decision stems from a suit filed in 2015 by the California Department of Business Oversight and several district attorneys (collectively, “People”) against a national debt payment service operation for alleged violations of the UCL and FAL. While the debt payment service operation demanded a jury trial, the People filed a motion to strike, which the trial court granted. The Court of Appeal overturned the trial court decision, holding that under certain provisions of the California Constitution the debt payment service operation had a right to a jury trial.
The California Supreme Court disagreed with the Court of Appeal concluding that, among other things, (i) the causes of action established by the UCL and FAL at issue in this case are equitable rather than legal actions, which should be tried by a court rather than by a jury; and (ii) the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Tull v. United States, relied upon by the Court of Appeal, does not govern this case for various reasons, including that the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the civil jury trial provision of the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution applies only to federal court proceedings—not state court proceedings—and that the “constitution right to a jury trial in state court civil proceedings is governed only by the civil jury trial provisions of each individual state’s own state constitution.” (Emphasis in the original.)
On May 7, California issued updated guidance for real estate transactions and an accompanying checklist for the real estate industry intended to minimize the spread of Covid-19 as these business gradually reopen as part of Stage 2 of the state’s roadmap for modifying the stay home order. The guidance includes protocols for the workplace and shown properties.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Fair servicing in wake of Covid-19" at an American Bar Association webinar
- APPROVED Webcast: Maximizing vendor value
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Cram for the exam: Best prep strategies for a regulatory examination" at an ACAMS webinar
- Melissa Klimkiewicz to discuss "Flood insurance basics" at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance School
- Sasha Leonhardt to discuss "Privacy laws clarified" at the National Settlement Services Summit (NS3)
- Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss "New privacy legislation: Preparing for a major source of class action and enforcement activity going forward" at the American Conference Institute Consumer Finance Class Actions, Litigation & Government Enforcement Actions