Jul 19, 2012
The California Department of Justice Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit will police not only California-based corporations but all companies conducting business in the state.
"Their privacy practices are going to be scrutinized a lot more by the Attorney General's office," said Special Assistant Attorney General for Technology Travis LeBlanc. "When there are violations of California privacy laws, we will enforce them."
"We have targeted our efforts in the mobile space," said LeBlanc. "We intend to start enforcing the California Online Privacy Act."
California has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world because, unlike most other constitutions in the world, the California Constitution specifies the Right to Privacy, which includes Internet privacy.
"We have a specific constitutional right in California to privacy - and it's an inalienable right," LeBlanc emphasized.
California was the first government to pass a Do Not Call list and the first to pass a law that mandates data breach notification to consumers.
Formation of the new Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit has the Golden State leading the nation once again. The unit is part of the California Justice Department's electronic crimes unit.
Last month, Attorney General Kamala Harris finalized agreements with Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion to ensure that users can read the privacy policies on all mobile applications BEFORE they download and install apps.
The new unit will investigate the companies to see how they have lived up to their data protection agreements, then prosecute identity theft, data intrusions and crimes against Californians involving the use of technology.
The state agency will enforce privacy protections after seeing how companies are handling the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information of California citizens, organizations and the government.
Joanne McNabb has been named Director of Privacy Education and Policy in the new cybercrimes unit to assist in shaking many Silicon Valley technology companies out of the long-familiar practice of invading user privacy by default and apologizing for it after the damage is done.
The California state eCrime Unit will provide:
- Investigative and prosecutorial support to five California regional high-tech task forces funded through the High Technology Theft Apprehension and Prosecution Trust Fund
- Coordination for out-of-state technology crime investigation requests
- Training for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, the judiciary and the public on cyber safety and strong information-security practices
Most agree it is right that the society which leads the world in online technology should also lead the world in fighting cybercrime and privacy rights violations.
"We share and store our most sensitive personal information on phones, computers and even the cloud. It is imperative that consumers are empowered to understand how these innovations use personal information so that we can all make informed choices about what information we want to share," said Attorney General Harris.
"The Privacy Unit will police the privacy practices of individuals and organizations to hold accountable those who misuse technology to invade the privacy of others," Harris added.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris established the eCrime Unit to prosecute identity theft, data intrusions, and crimes using technology.
As California's top law enforcement official, it is her job to enforce the California Constitution, and her intent to do so is emphasized by this action which further protects the privacy rights and online security of all Californians.