Avoid Trouble when Collecting Data from your California-based Customers

There is a growing fear online regarding the use of customer’s information due to the upsurge of identity theft and various other online crimes. This has been increasing in the headlines from major corporate hacks to Facebook data privacy issues. However, these concerns are no longer just a fear of the consumer. Business owners and entrepreneurs that operate online should be concerned as well. Therefore, privacy is rapidly becoming an important consideration when you develop your online strategy.

Due to these concerns, California has enacted laws that require you to let your customers know when your website is collecting their information. So if you are collecting the “personally identifiable information” of any California residents, make sure you are aware of the requirements necessary to stay in compliance with California’s laws.

What type of information counts?

According to California law, if you are collecting any of the following, you should make sure you are in compliance with the posting requirements:

(1) A first and last name;
(2) A home or other physical address, including street name and name of a city or town;
(3) An e-mail address;
(4) A telephone number;
(5) A social security number;
(6) Any other identifier that permits the physical or online contacting of a specific individual;
(7) Information concerning a user that the web site or online service collects online from the user and maintains in personally identifiable form in combination with an identifier described in this subdivision.

Where do you have to post this warning?

The California statute says that you must “conspicuously post” the warning. However, what this essentially means is that you need to post the warning on the landing page of your website.

The warning may be the actual privacy policy, or an icon that links back to the actual privacy policy. If an icon is used, make sure the color of the icon “contrasts with the background color of the web page or is otherwise distinguishable.”