As the existing federal legislation regarding online privacy is mostly pre-2000, the adoption of new state laws and their practical implementation can provide a benchmark for protecting the privacy of the United States citizens. The California Consumer Privacy Act, which became effective on January 1st of 2020, is one of those new laws. It becomes enforceable by California Attorney General on July 1st of 2020, but there are already several lawsuits filed against various businesses and individuals citing CCPA. The success or failure of these lawsuits can shape the common law regarding the privacy and security of people in the XXI century.
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A particular case to watch in 2020 is Burke V. Clearview, a class-action lawsuit filed by Sean Burke and James Pomerene in February against a company called Clearview. According to Burke v. ClearviewAI, Clearview scraped numerous online resources for pictures and videos of millions of individuals to create a biometric and facial recognition database. Clearview then sold access to the database to various law enforcement agencies, private companies, and individuals. This conduct facilitated an unprecedented breach of privacy that many businesses before considered taboo (Sobel 58). Burke v. ClearviewAI is not the only lawsuit against Clearview, but it features a new piece of legislation that will be field-tested by its application in action against an extremely relevant threat that has ties with law enforcement.
The outcome of the case is yet unclear, as CCPA is not enforced until July 1st of 2020, but the public scandal aspect of the class action lawsuit is something to consider. The general public has recently become aware of Clearview’s illicit privacy breaches, as well as the willingness with which law enforcement agencies took part in the violation of human rights. It is likely that this lawsuit, as well as many others like it, will attract enough attention to keep the citizens privy to the violation of their privacy. The California Customer Protection Act will also be tested in battle, in which its merits and shortcomings will be exposed.
Burke v. ClearviewAI, Inc., 20CV0370 BAS MSB (2020). United States District Court, Southern District of California. Web.
Sobel, Benjamin. “HiQ v. LinkedIn, Clearview AI, and a New Common Law of Web Scraping.” SSRN. 2020, Web.