This post was also written by Joshua B. Marker and Christopher G. Cwalina.
Increasingly, consumers demand to know how the businesses they patronize use, share, and disclose personal information. California’s Shine the Light Act, California Civil Code 1798.83, is intended to meet this demand for transparency. The Shine the Light Act provides California residents a statutory right to demand an accounting of how a business has shared personal information about them, to third parties, for the purpose of those third parties engaging in direct marketing to the consumer. The Act imposes a corresponding duty on many businesses to provide a clear and conspicuous method by which consumers can make such a demand. As reflected in the Reed Smith Shine the Light Act Reference Guide, the Act does not apply to every business, nor to every disclosure. Where the Act does apply, violation of its requirements can result in liability of up to $3,000 per violation.
Despite going into effect in 2005, the Act has just recently become the statutory basis for a number of consumer class actions, including against major publishing companies such as Conde Nast and Men’s Journal LLC. The lawsuits allege that the companies did not provide a method for consumers to obtain the disclosures of their personal information as required by the law. The suits seek thousands in statutory damages on behalf of every class member. To see if the Act applies to you, and what you have to do to comply, please review the chart and call counsel with any questions.