A major change is coming to the Internet in January. And it should give users more control over their data.

To comply with a new California privacy bill starting in January, websites will soon place links on their website allowing users to opt out of having their data collected and sold for advertising and other revenue opportunities, according to Reuters.

In its report, which cited unidentified sources, Reuters said that Walmart will be among the big companies adding links to its site called "Do Not Sell My Info." Those who click on the link will be able to stop Walmart from collecting data on them and selling that data to third-parties.

According to the report, Home Depot, Target, and other retailers will also participate. Interestingly, Amazon won't add the link to its site. The reason? The company told Reuters that it doesn't sell customer data.

The change is coming thanks to the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will go into effect in January. The law gives California residents more oversight and control over their data, and limits collection efforts by U.S. companies. In addition to retailers, companies as far ranging as Facebook, Apple, Google, and Netflix will also be subject to curbing data gathering.

The move is similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that governs data collection in the European Union. And it adds a layer of complexity for companies to determine what they can and cannot collect, and when, and how they do so.

Indeed, geography matters in this equation. Since the law is specific to California, people living in the 49 other states and U.S. territories technically don't have the ability to request  changes to their information. However, some retailers, like Walmart, will allow people in any state to participate.

Ultimately, the CCPA and laws that will only follow in other states will usher in a new challenge and regulatory requirement for companies. They'll need to be aware of the data they can collect and how, and have the ability to manage customer data more effectively, if customers allow them to have it. 

Moreover, the move also means that companies that rely on customer data to drive revenue will need to find ways to make up for that revenue loss and find new ways to generate sales without relying upon a customer's information. Depending on the company, that may not be an easy task.

If nothing else, the changes coming to online stores suggest big things are happening in data privacy and collection. And it's incumbent upon all companies to be ready -- or else.

Published on: Dec 30, 2019
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