Want to stop companies from selling your data? Contact your state lawmakers

California’s new privacy rights law could reach beyond state lines

SAN ANTONIO – From retailers to cellphone providers, all kinds of companies you do business with have been turning your personal data into big profits for years.

Now, a new law in California could wind up giving people throughout the U.S. more control over what they share and who they share it with.

The California Consumer Privacy Act gives California residents and perhaps millions of others new privacy rights.

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“This law is definitely the first comprehensive privacy law we have in this country. 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,” said Justin Brookman, of Consumer Reports.

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.

“Other states are starting to consider passing similar legislation. For example, Nevada has already passed a privacy law. A lot of companies are going to follow this law rather than try to figure out where people are to decide what law to comply with,” Brookman said.

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.

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But possibly the most significant change will be an “opt-out” link -- a button on the bottom of a web page that says “Do Not Sell My Personal Information." Residents will begin seeing that soon.

Texas lawmakers considered a bill that strongly resembled the California Act last session, but it didn’t get out of committee. Instead, another privacy bill did pass, which calls for setting up a Privacy Protection Council to study and issue. That law also requires many businesses to disclose data breaches within 60 days of learning of the breach.

For now, one of the most effective ways to stop companies from tracking you is to use an ad blocker.

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